Elena Alexseeva, Co-Founder & CEO at PhotoHand.com, has more than 15 years of experience in IT services, having previously held IT strategy consulting and product development positions. In this latest Innovatrs interview, Elena talks about her first steps in the IT industry and how she decided to start-up her own company- aimed at filling the gap in the Digital Imaging ecosystem by changing industry rules at a time where the borderline between professional and amateur photographers has been blurred. Innovatrs: What made you do it? Why did you take the plunge, give up that cosy corporate job and become an entrepreneur? Elena: Never set foot in a corporation – always worked in small companies and start-ups where people were hired on merit and where you had to wear many hats. And I always knew that one day I would start my own business. It was the matter of time and the right opportunity. I value the experience – positive and negative – that I gained when working with the founders of these companies. What is interesting is that they all had the same colorful personality. Then in 2003 at a networking event, I stumbled upon Mr. Iospa – my current business partner who sounded exactly like all of them put together – an unbridled entrepreneur. Coming from the Finance industry, he seriously needed help with his IT offshore outsourcing business and offered me co-ownership. Innovatrs: What was the original @ha Idea and how has it evolved? Elena: PhotoHand.com organically grew from our outsourcing business. The idea came from a photographer client and originally the site was a photo editing and photo book design service to photographers. Then, as we got our feet wet in the Digital Imaging industry that was emerging from the former Photography industry, we noticed that it’s focus was shifting towards serving consumers because the lines separating professional photographers from semi-professionals and semi-professionals from amateurs were blurring. A much bigger market was opening to PhotoHand raising it’s potential to at least 100 Million a year in annual revenue. With this in mind, PhotoHand.com was rebuilt in 2008 to speak the language of consumers. Innovatrs: What was your first crisis or hurdle? Elena:Seeing the lucrative revenue potential but realizing the detrimental costs associated with handling large numbers of micro orders, we set out to design a technology platform that would simplify and automate most of the steps in sales, order management, staff management, and customer care. The first version of the PhotoHand platform was designed to cater to photographers and was rebuilt in 2008 to speak the language of consumers.
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