How These College Buddies Sketched Out a Million-Dollar Business at the Local Watering Hole

Kyle and Eli are visionaries. They see the power of accessible and affordable photography that doesn’t substitute quality for cost. But it’s more than that, it’s about offering customers images that pop, and ultimately, sell goods. 

Kyle and Eli love data, and for them, if you don’t have a background in e-commerce, you can’t speak to conversion rates and ROIs. A picture is never just a picture, and sometimes, it’s worth much more than a thousand words. Kyle and Eli’s business plan was sketched out on a napkin at their neighborhood bar. Results Imagery is the successful brainchild of that fortuitous meet-up.

Both Kyle and Eli are graduates of the business program at California State University, Chico. After college, they were business partners in a company called Soul id, a social networking app, where they led the media department together. They populated the content and a lot of their “passion for media” came from that. Separately, they were both working on side businesses involving photography and e-commerce, confirming my suspicions that they never slept.

Kyle and Eli do whatever it takes to get the best shot.

That night at the bar, Kyle and Eli realized they could fill a niche. As Eli tells it: “We both saw the opportunity of people shopping with their eyes and no longer needing to touch and feel. They need to see the technology from all of the different angles. They need to see it in a lifestyle setting with models that represent what they envision doing with that product.”

An Experiment to Test a Hypothesis

Just to test the theory that Kyle and Eli were, in fact, onto something, they ran an experiment. They took a product that on its own doesn’t exactly scream “buy me.” Could the partners use their photography skills and marketing acumen to change that? 

Reader, they were successful. They transformed snowboarding wax into the next big thing. “We had these really cool photos, big macro dripping shots,” and then they watched as the item became the number one seller on the site. As Eli explains: “We blew through the inventory and the only change we made was the photos.”

Kyle and Eli knew that it was time to jump headfirst into their new venture. They also knew that to disrupt the industry, they would have to work incredibly hard. “We network our butts off and connect with people. If you want to be seen, you’ve got to show up. When you’re on a penny budget, you’ve got to grind your butt off and shake as many hands, connecting with as many people on LinkedIn as you can.”

Hard at work creating pro images that convert

Lighting Actual Fires (and metaphorical ones)

The two partners are so likable and charismatic. Fun is a huge part of their MO. This story is a particular favorite and grabs their raison d’etre: “In the very early days when Kyle and I were doing the set design, prop gathering, and content creation, we had a BBQ skewer brand in the studio where they wanted shrimp on the skewers, on a flaming BBQ in an outside setting. Using a small tailgate BBQ we set it on a table with a tablecloth in case anything spilled or dripped (in an outside area with nothing around us).”

“The plan was to have the BBQ lit, a team member taking the photo of me holding the skewer (tight hand shot to show the logo), and Kyle spraying lighter fluid on the backside of the grill to flame up for the background of the image. Kyle accidentally sprayed too much and it lit the tablecloth on fire. As you can imagine after it was a frantic panic to get the small fire put out (which we did quickly). Needless to say, we were hysterically laughing after things were under control.” God bless fire extinguishers.

Results Imagery is not one-size-fits-all. They believe in the power of partnering with clients. They explain, “The best way to measure results is simply asking the customer. After they implemented the new content, how did it perform compared to the previous period’s performance? Quality imagery improves the credibility of your brand and allows brands to craft their own image and stand on a higher price point (perceived value). When a brand implements quality imagery across its sales channels, it creates a consistent omnichannel experience that again leads to client retention and trust.”

The hustle paid off. Results Imagery has clients all over the world (including Disney and Roku) and has translated the power of imagery to the tune of millions of dollars in sales. Kyle says, “Brands come to us because they want to take creative off their plate. They’re coming to us because they’re good at what they do and we’re good at what we do. Our biggest goal is to work with as many brands as possible, to create meaningful content, and to showcase the vision behind the companies.”

Since launching in 2017, the team has grown to 20 people, including full-time in-house team members and part-time team members. 

Results Matter

The success lies in the fact both Kyle and Eli are “marketers at heart.” Lots of photography studios know how to take meaningful pictures, but they have no savviness when it comes to conversion. With Results Imagery, there are actionable results – it’s why it’s in the name. Kyle and Eli lead with results. Period.

The Global Pandemic took the company even further. Lots of companies were looking to offload their creative departments and Results Imagery was positioned to carry the load. The e-commerce space also took off as people were quarantining from home. Both Kyle and Eli credit their success to hard work and luck during this time: “We got really lucky that our business was positioned to do so well.”

The Power of Giving Back

Kyle and Eli also believe in the power of sharing their knowledge. They run a weekly podcast called The Biz Bros. Eli says,We started the podcast initially as a long-tail lead generator in the eCommerce industry. As the podcast evolved (where it is today), we are using it to build authority in the space and brand ourselves as leaders in the business landscape.”

Not twins but absolutely twin-adjacent

“We use it as a platform to invite thought leaders as guests to share valuable information and tips extending into management, culture, leadership, growth strategies, and more. We hope to build a community around the brand to provide a community delivering value, providing feedback, and seeking mentorship.”

“Our two key mentors (we have many others through life, but these are two that we meet with regularly to discuss the trajectory of the business): Andrew March and Tim Allen. As our authority in the business world grows, we seek to be mentors to other startup founders and co-founders.”

They also launched a sustainability program called Snap One, Plant One. For every photo or video that a client orders from Results Imagery, the company plants a tree. Clients can directly contribute to the reforestation in central Oregon, especially powerful coming off of the string of wildfires that the area has suffered. This is an actionable and direct way to give back to the community.

Planting trees in Oregon

Results Imagery is living it up in Central Oregon. “Cascade mountains, rivers, lakes, everything is here. We are outside all the time.” The biggest driver of their success stems from their absolute passion for delivering high-quality work. Passion is what is in their secret sauce, hands down. “Passion is everything. To sell something, you have to believe in it. Everything we do is fueled by our passion.”

And as for the local bar, many more pivotal meetings have taken place there. “Grabbing a quick drink and stepping away from the laptop and studio allows us to think bigger and look at the business more holistically. When we are in the studio, it is very much ‘working in’ the business vs. ‘working on’ the business. Creativity also seems to expand with some juice in the veins.”

Andrew Gazdecki
Andrew Gazdeckihttps://microacquire.com
Andrew is an award-winning serial entrepreneur with three exits. He’s the founder and CEO of MicroAcquire, the world’s most founder-friendly startup marketplace, and its rebellious child, Bootstrappers, which gives voice to the entrepreneurial underdog. When not building businesses, he writes for Forbes, Entrepreneur, and now, Bootstrappers.

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