Mypicdrop founder Karina Kelly is a serial entrepreneur who swears by the support networks she has found in the Irish start-up ecosystem.
Karina Kelly is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur who loves nothing more than diving head first into new markets and coming up with solutions to unsolved problems. A proud Roscommon woman living in Donegal with her husband and two kids, her current venture, Mypicdrop, is pitched as ‘your digital shelf stacker’.
In a nutshell, Mypicdrop is built to assist online retailers, web developers and digital marketing agencies with batch image resizing, renaming and editing. Kelly is the sole founder, coming from a background in marketing and then working with tech start-ups in Enterprise Ireland’s New York office.
After a stint in Asia, she returned to Ireland and started her first company in 2006. Then recession hit, she let all of her staff go and pivoted to selling radiators online. “Everyone told us at the time that nobody would buy such an expensive product without seeing it first. How things have changed! The Radiator Shop is still going strong today and is run by my husband,” said Kelly.
After gaining some experience in business development with Elavon Merchant Services, Kelly returned to the lure of entrepreneurship in 2017, founding 360 Crew with her husband. This company specialises in 360-degree product photography for e-commerce retailers.
“It was from this work that I spotted the challenge that growing e-commerce retailers were having with content publishing, for which one of the only solutions to date has been manpower and Excel sheets. And everyone knows: where there is manpower and Excel sheets, there is a glaring opportunity to come up with a better way!”
Kelly’s solution is Conveyor, a workflow software to help online retailers reduce the time and cost of publishing product content. “The online production team can then focus on value-add activities rather than content gathering, editing and organising.”
Conveyor saves retailers time with faster uploads of new stock. “For the e-commerce retailer, getting product content (images, descriptions, specifications and attributes) to an online store is a time-consuming process that requires teams of people to complete,” Kelly explained. “These teams are scrambling to quickly download product content from brand portals, gather in-house image content, tailor it all and upload it to the correct product. And all of this needs to be done at breakneck speed to win online sales.”
This is simply not practical in the fast-paced world of online shopping, according to Kelly. “As e-commerce moves to become the biggest retail channel worldwide, the market has no choice but to look at ways to automate processes that are currently being done manually. The aim must be to create a multichannel retail structure with minimal human input.”
‘Everyone knows: where there is manpower and Excel sheets, there is a glaring opportunity to come up with a better way’
– KARINA KELLY
Mypicdrop’s target market is medium to large e-commerce retailers in the fashion and apparel sector. “These retailers are dealing with some of the largest stock lists and some of the shortest production timeframes. Product life cycles have reduced from six to nine months a few years ago to eight to 12 weeks now, with lots of last-minute campaigns to promote ‘trending’ products. All of this calls for a product content workflow streamlined to support such a fast-paced environment,” said Kelly.
The company is starting by targeting the UK, home to thousands of these online retailers. Some clients here, Kelly hopes, will provide a gateway to more in Europe and the US. “The ultimate goal is to fully automate product content publishing for e-commerce retailers globally,” she said.
The journey so far
Mypicdrop is at pre-seed stage and currently looking for investment to further develop the software. Version two has been built but the next step is to get to a market-ready prototype for a 2019 customer pilot.
“We are currently working with three of Ireland’s top online retailers, helping them with their product content workflow by using a service-based version of Conveyor. Starting in this way has given us really valuable insights into how retailers are solving the product content challenge at the minute, where the similarities are, and what solutions would be most attractive to this market,” said Kelly.
“It’s not the easiest way to go to market, but I think from this experience I have to say it is probably one of the most valuable to help determine your list of software build priorities.”
‘E-commerce has no choice but to look at ways to automate processes that are currently being done manually’
– KARINA KELLY
A graduate of New Frontiers, Kelly said this Enterprise Ireland programme was “the bomb” for the support, guidance and networking she gained.
“I would not be at this point in the business without having been on it,” she said. “I would really recommend it as the first step for any start-up.”
Kelly has received ongoing advice and guidance from Enterprise Ireland, the Donegal Local Enterprise Office and Acorns. She is also grateful for her fellows in the start-up world who have been generous with their time, and encourages others to start conversations and always ask for (and listen to) advice.
“You think you have a business idea but you will be amazed how others will help you improve it. Off the top of my head I can pinpoint at least 10 conversations with our customers, advisers and potential investors that were pivotal in our journey.”
Another conversation led her to podcasts such as Masters of Scale and How I Built This, which she also recommends. “You will be on the road a lot, and this is a really enjoyable way to help dispel your doubts and get you ultra-positive about your own potential,” she said.
‘There were many days when it felt like I was swimming in a sea of confusion, so I needed to be OK to just sit with that’
– KARINA KELLY
Kelly has been inspired by those Irish start-ups that have paved the way ahead. “They say you can only become what you see and when you see Irish start-ups taking on the world you can very easily say to yourself: ‘Why not me?’”
While it was a challenge for her to embrace the rapidly changing landscape of start-up life, she has learned to trust her manoeuvres.
“There were many days when it felt like I was swimming in a sea of confusion, so I needed to be OK to just sit with that and know that the next right move would eventually present itself – which, so far, it always has!
“After that, it’s managing what happens day to day while keeping the bigger picture in view. You can get lost in the to-do list but unless you keep moving on strategic-based activities, it just doesn’t move ahead.”
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