Snapbar - success story
Snapbar and remove.bg: Inventing the Cloud-Based Virtual Photobooth Together
Snapbar offers creative solutions for in-person and virtual events: from virtual photo booths and event boxes to company-branded selfie stations and custom photo booth rental options.
They build things that help engage and connect brands and audiences with care and attention paid to authenticity and quality.
At a Glance
Snapbar grew 1,000% in the three years to 2018 leasing a branded selfie station service to high-profile corporate events.
The pandemic brought the company screeching to a halt. But it created a gift box business while it ramped up development for its online offering.
Snapbar founders had been following remove.bg since the early days. The background-removal service formed the foundation of the cloud-based service.
The pioneering business saw slow going at first but soon began to double and triple, growing 1,200% in five months from late March with nearly 600 live events under its belt.
Clients as big as Disney, Yale, Facebook, Microsoft, and TED Talks use virtual photo booths from Snapbar for creative, branded photos of event attendees with fun elements such as stickers, overlays, and eye-catching backgrounds.
These days, remove.bg and Snapbar remove the backgrounds from as many as 500 images a minute.
Thanks to the pandemic, the threat faced by Snapbar — a photobooth provider offering sleek, brandable photo booths for a variety of corporate events — was existential.
Between 2012 and 2018, the company grew from a part-time gig for co-founders Sam and Joe Eitzen into number 473 on the 2019 “Inc. 5,000” list of America’s fastest-growing private businesses.
Between 2015 and 2020, it had grown 1,450% with revenue of between $4-5m with 18 full-time and 30 part-time staff on its books.
“In March 2020,” Sam tells us, “we lost 100% of our business for the foreseeable future.”
Brilliantly, the Eitzen brothers bought themselves some time in a “drastic pivot” setting up a care and gift package company for corporates supplied by independent firms.
The company made $500,000 in three months and bought enough time for an engineer to create the second pivot - a virtual photo booth.
That’s where remove.bg came in.
Sam can’t remember where his brother, a long-term Photoshop user, read about the service, but he knows it was a long time ago, perhaps in a digital photography blog.
Nevertheless, remove.bg re-emerged as the ideal partner for Snapbar’s new venture: a pioneering online selfie station.
“Without remove.bg, I wouldn’t have started Snapbar’s virtual solutions,” says Sam, simply.
He knew his cloud-based service needed to produce creative, sometimes branded, user-generated content.
Just like the real-world equivalent, the virtual booths would need to have the possibility for overlays, watermarks, stickers, and fun backgrounds. remove.bg would replace the green screen Snapbar had been using.
Onboarding was easy. After making use of a free trial, Snapbar accessed remove.bg’s open API, starting with 5,000 credits for high res background removal.
“Then we bought more and more!” said Sam.
There were actually some improvements in the cloud-based service, both for consumers and Snapbar.
The provider was able to offer a digital mosaic so “brands could connect with their audience and create digital art at the same time,” emerging as people create or upload content.
And without the need for a real-world presence, the company’s profit margin has doubled.
Even though companies quickly moved events online, no other company was ready to take advantage of the new opportunity for branded, creative, user-generated content.
Maybe that’s why Snapbar’s Virtual Booth had a slow start. In March and April, the company had just a couple of events wanting virtual photobooths. There were 10-15 by the end of May. June and July each saw a threefold increase on May’s figures. And volume doubled in August and again in September and October was its busiest month yet, growing some more.
The company grew 1,200% in those five months and Snapbar has provided eye-catching photos of virtual attendees for nearly 600 events since the end of March 2020, creating a whole new digital market in the process.
And these aren’t small events. Thanks to the company’s reputation Snapbar has been able to create virtual photo booths for Google, Microsoft, Facebook Yves Saint Laurent, Yale University, and Disney.
Use cases are quite varied. There are graduation ceremonies, virtual headshots, school commencements and yearbooks and the main TED Talks.
If Sam has a concern about remove.bg, it’s that Snapbar might suddenly run out of remove.bg credits: there are usually between 100-150 live bookings taking place at any one time and people are removing dozens of backgrounds at once. They have sometimes hit 500 backgrounds removed in a minute.
“We bought 400,000 credits this month and we are powering through them,” says Sam. “Remove.bg is absolutely key. If it should go down, it would be game over for the event.”
He has nothing but praise for remove.bg - and his customers feel the same.
“We have lots of repeat customers - some of them have rebooked us eight times. Remove.bg is better than I could want it to be. If I didn’t have it, I don’t know what we would do.”