At the 2015 Midwest Technology Leaders Conference, the premier regional tech conference, the Diva Tech Talk team met a phenomenal female duo who launched a startup in Detroit called sizzlepig. In this interview, Co-founder Carrie Thorpe shares her story about getting into technology and launching sizzlepig’s new and very effective image sharing tool.
Carrie Thorpe’s very first job was a jump into the (then) brand new world of digital advertising. She was the first digital traffic person at Ogilvy & Mather, a large global ad agency. She saw a lot of growth potential in digital advertising but some pushback from customers.
“We were still getting the reaction that the ‘whole Internet is a fad’ at that point,” she says, describing managing budgets for big brands like Ford.
Carrie had to learn all about the new technologies while working in the ad world. In 2009, she broke out from the agency world to start her own company. Right away her team started to run into problems with projects. Several of their clients had thousands of images and would keep changing the image specs. The amount of time spent on editing and sending files was pulling their creative team down. They used this first-hand experience to create a solution.
“We thought there had to be a better way to handle this, so it wasn’t so manual,” she said.
There weren’t tools for what Carrie and her team wanted to do, so they created sizzlepig's cloud-based tool that allows you to resize multiple images without batch scripting. Carrie describes batch scripting as working too much like an assembly line. If you don’t like the results you have to go back and manually edit the image, so it’s not always helpful. As a growing creative agency, they had to take a risk to put resources into the new technology which they first called “Bacon.” They delegated a team to start working on it because they felt it was so needed in the industry.
The tool allows users to shape and send images for all different sizes. An agency can sign up for an account, choose their folder, send where images should go, and use their blue print screen to choose the sizes and shapes. There are templates for social media graphics, and the ability to create custom templates.
“As an agency, it’s all about time. Image production is not a well loved task. You can take a look and quickly adjust and output images,” Carrie said. “It saves our clients 90% of their time.”
For that very first project that inspired this new tool, it would have saved their team 20 hours of work, diminishing that time to less than half an hour. Carrie tells us this is not an evolutionary tool, like Adobe Creative Cloud, but a revolutionary tool offering a new approach to image editing and sharing.
For other women technology entrepreneurs, Carrie offers great advice. Launching a new product is challenging, but for Carrie focusing on how much value and help the end users receives motivates her to get through the tough times. She also says having a strong partnership with your founders and team is key to building the company. What makes a strong partnership? Carrie says the best characteristics for her are trust and having a reliable work ethic. Also, she says no one should be brought onto the team that can’t fit into your work culture.
Working at sizzlepig, Carrie says, is more about honesty in what you’re doing.
“We strive to be honest with ourselves and our clients,” she says. Carrie also says that it is essential that you find a personal mentor. This should be someone who can call you out and tell you when you’re overreacting or underreacting.
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