Stockbyte, the Tralee-based digital picture agency, was named DHL Exporter of the Year at an awards ceremony in Dublin yesterday.
The company, which was set up in 1997 and is now ranked within the world’s top four ‘royalty-free’ photo libraries, specialises in the distribution of digital stock photography in themed collections through the website Stockbyte.com and an extensive direct sales and international distributor network.
Over 98pc of the company’s output goes to export markets and it now has a presence in 70 countries apart from its core Irish, UK, US and Canadian markets.
The Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney TD, presented the company with the prize, which included a specially commissioned trophy and €13,000 worth of business grants.
Speaking to siliconrepublic.com, Jerry Kennelly (pictured), CEO of Stockbyte, explained how the internet had gradually become an integral part of the company’s business model: “With our database-driven website we log every search that’s done on the site and can visually display all the searches on the backend of our web servers. In this way, we can build up a picture of what kind of shots our customers are looking for. Two years ago, 20pc of our sales went through our website; today it’s about 50pc.”
Kennelly, who describes himself as a “former snapper”, worked in the family business, Kerry’s Eye newspaper, as a teenager in a role that encompassed photography, reporting and production. He now oversees an operation that employs 40 people in Tralee, plus 30 contractors around the world. The company is currently undertaking major photoshoots in the US and South Africa with a view to doubling its image library to 60,000 by the year end.
Stockbyte competes in the US$1.5bn-a-year stock photography market, which is dominated by Getty Images and Bill Gates’ Corbis agency. Rights-protected photography makes up 70pc of the market but royalty-free agencies such as Stockbyte, whose images can be used an unlimited number of times by clients, have come out of nowhere to grab 30pc of the market in recent years driven by internet distribution.
Kennelly would not disclose Stockbyte’s revenues but would only say he expected the company’s recent performance to continue: “In the biggest advertising downturn in recent history, our sales in the 12 months to the end of April 2003 will have grown by 50pc.”
The other finalists in the DHL Exporter of the Year Awards were Faulker Packaging, McKeon Stone, Macalla Software and Ireland’s Eye knitwear.
By Brian Skelly