We interviewed Sarah Stenhouse, digital marketing entrepreneur and Business Development Director of Instie, a remarkable new service for finding and using images online.
Tell us about Instie – what does your company do?

Have you ever lost a full day searching for that perfect image from stock photography websites, and never actually finding one that you like?

Instie aims to solve this problem by giving businesses access to user-generated content from Instagram. Our search engine helps you find relevant content based on filters such as hashtags and location. You can then request the Instagram posts you like the most. We then facilitate the licence creation between you and the Instagram user making sure that both sides are happy with how the visual content will be used.

Why did you start Instie?

I started Instie because I felt that stock photography wasn’t hitting the mark in today’s world. People don’t want companies to impose stereotypical visuals from stock image banks on them, it’s been overdone to the point that now we just ignore these types of visuals. I thought that the content we produce as consumers is much better than anything I would find on Shutterstock… but I didn’t just want to steal it from Instagram, and I wasn’t really sure how to go about getting permission. So, I decided to make it easy for myself and start a service that would do it for me.

Tell us about your digital marketing background. Did this play a big role in the development of your company?

I have 4 years’ experience in digital marketing and had the great fortune of working with clients such as Skyscanner, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Government and Vets Now. My specialisms include data analysis, content creation, social media strategy, web development, project management and community management. This has played a huge role in the development of my company, as I felt the stock photography pain point first hand.

What have been the challenges so far?

Our biggest challenge to date has been a combination of funding and finding the right people to work with. When you’re such a small business those first hires are key: if you make the wrong choice it can end up killing your rate of growth.

And the opportunities? 

We have had so much great feedback from our early customers, they are so excited for the web app to launch! That has been awesome. I think also having early stage talks with Instagram about becoming a marketing partner has been pretty amazing too.

What are your aims for Instie over the next 5 years?

To be in the top 500 most popular websites in the whole world, to have a vibrant fun office in Edinburgh and another in the States. Personally I would like to try to inspire young women to start their own tech businesses particularly back in my home county of Fife on the back of Instie’s success.

What are your top 3 tips for women interested in careers in tech?

  • Don’t be afraid to think a little differently
  • Trust that you have the confidence and strength to change something you are passionate about
  • Never stop learning.

If you could meet any woman in STEM, alive or dead, who would you meet and why?

Whitney Wolfe, Founder of Bumble, and co-founder of Tinder. Love, it or hate it Tinder is huge, it’s integrated into so many singletons’ daily lives. To have that many engaged global users is incredible. I’m sure she would have some amazing tips 🙂

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