October 1, 2019
Hi, I’m Scott McInnes, founder of TapSnap, a photo booth franchise with franchisees in most major cities in the United States, Canada, and Sydney, Australia. I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 20 years, and have founded 3 successful start-ups all related to technology.
For as long as a remember I always admired entrepreneurs. Whatever job I was working at, whenever I had the opportunity, I would try to figure out what made the business successful. My first job was in a restaurant and my boss and I would kick around business ideas for hours. He’s gone on to launch many successful businesses including a large brewery and distillery, and I’ve launched my own businesses that have been primarily related to technology.
I went to university but never really felt like it was for me and dropped out after a couple of years. I always had an idea of the type of life that I wanted to live but after dropping out of university, I knew that if I wanted to achieve my goals I would have to do something on my own.
The first business I started was a pizza delivery restaurant that failed after 2 years. In hindsight I can see plenty of reasons why it failed, starting with it being not a very well thought out idea in the first place. It was an expensive lesson, but I continue to apply what I learned from that failure to my businesses today. Failing at that business left a lasting mark on me and still provides me with the motivation to work hard.
Prior to TapSnap, we were in the business of selling and supporting DVD rental kiosks. That business was very successful but by 2010 had started to slow down as people started moving from DVDs to streaming movies. The DVD rental kiosk business and my previous business had both involved developing and selling business opportunities to other aspiring entrepreneurs. We started looking for a new idea that would sell as a business opportunity or potentially franchise. None of the ideas that we considered got us excited as creating a modern version of a photo booth.
There were a few other companies that were selling the open concept, social media connected photo booths, but we felt that with our experience we had an opportunity to create something special, unique and on a much larger scale than what had been done previously. We now develop our hardware in-house, but on the first generation of equipment, we worked with a custom kiosk manufacturer in Southern California to design the hardware. After close to a year of hardware and software development TapSnap was launched.
We felt that rather than just sell equipment and provide technical support to our customers that TapSnap could be a great franchise business, with centralized sales and marketing from our head office.
TapSnap was a hit from the start, and we were recognized several years in a row as both one of North America’s fastest-growing and best new technology franchises.
Initially, we went to found our first franchisees in our customers and leads from our DVD rental business. Our database of customers and leads was huge, and even though a photo booth franchise is a lot different from a DVD rental business there are a lot of similarities. Both are fun, technology-related businesses and we had a lot of success marketing TapSnap to people that had shown interest in our other business.
From there we moved on to using lead generation strategies that we had used successfully in the past. We advertised on franchise lead generation websites, Entrepreneur Magazine and on the radio. We found that some strategies that worked previously no longer worked as well, which is likely because the products were different and the way that people researched and discovered new businesses was also changing. Today with such a large base of franchisees we primarily use social media and Google Ads to target markets that we have specifically targeted for expansion.
The future looks great for TapSnap. We have managed to remain profitable while investing heavily in developing new products and features for existing products. Most recently, we launched our new Mobile Photo Studio, which is a handheld photo booth with all the features of our larger stationary booths. Mobile Photo Studio allows us to put multiple photo booths into the crowd at larger events and capture shots that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
Also great for events like golf tournaments where we can capture photos of players out on the course. All the sharing of photos is done on the spot and it can be paired with a printing station for events where we the guests want to take home a printed photo.
For the past 20 years, my businesses have all involved in one way or another helping other people start businesses. I’ve learned through my own experience and observing others that while it’s true that owning a small business isn’t for everyone, an individual’s success often comes down to finding the right business. When it’s a good fit there’s no better way to live or earn a living.
The tool we all use the most is HubSpot, which we use to run our marketing programs and as a CRM. We use Unbounce to build landing pages for our marketing campaigns and PPC advertising.
Entrepreneur.com is a great resource that covers a wide range of business ideas. HubSpot has a lot of great articles on sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. I would also recommend to any entrepreneur that they read the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.