SweetEscape, the AI-driven photography platform, announced recently that it raised $6 million in Series A round funding, co-led by Openspace Ventures and Jungle Ventures with participation from Burda Principal Investments and existing investors. The fresh round of financing will be used to develop its AI technology and to strengthen their presence across Asia. Headquartered in Jakarta, the company currently has over 100 employees across Jakarta, Singapore, and Manila. It also plans to double the team size by the end of 2019.
SweetEscape was founded in 2017 by David Soong and Emile Etienne, who were also the founders of Bridestory, Southeast Asia’s largest wedding marketplace platform, which was recently acquired by Tokopedia. The founders’ vision is to build a global photography platform that will bring accessibility and change the way consumers appreciate memories and photographers globally manage their business. SweetEscape has managed to scale to over 500+ cities across 100+ countries globally with thousands of photographers in their network within the past two years.
“Our ultimate mission is to empower the photographers’ community while providing consumers with affordable access to quality photos anywhere around the world,” said David Soong, CEO and founder, SweetEscape. “I have been a photographer for the past 20 years. 70% of a photographer’s time is spent not taking photos. Our platform makes their life’s easier—with us handling 80% of the photographer’s workflow and post-production—increasing photographers’ productivity and income and allowing them to pursue their passion. To do this, our goal is to leverage AI image processing technology to accelerate and automate the post-production process”.
SweetEscape is focused on being the first AI imaging technology in the region to lead the innovation and the transformation in this $80 billion photography industry.
The business was first established to solve a very simple problem, which is to allow consumers to discover local photographers while traveling and to ensure the memories are captured by locally curated professional photographers. Today, SweetEscape has serviced thousands of customers across hundreds of countries and the bookings have more than quadrupled since launching in 2017.
“We started SweetEscape to address a problem in the travel photography segment but as we continue to scale, we started to observe a broader usage of our platform beyond travel,” said Emile Etienne, COO and founder, SweetEscape. “The growth in non-travel (birthdays, baby showers, graduations, family photo shoots, and others) have consistently exceeded our expectations. With this new funding and the support of the investors, we will focus on strengthening our foothold in Asia while building our presence in new markets around the world.”
“Sweet Escape is addressing a huge consumer shift in behavior towards the experience economy and we look forward to fully supporting the SweetEscape team in creating a deeper technology platform to extend their value globally,” said Hian Goh, partner, Openspace Ventures.
“Given our multiple successful investments in the travel space and also software enablement of freelancers—we could clearly see the immense growth opportunity ahead to solve the gaps for consumers seeking experiences, and photographers seeking efficiency globally. The founders’ backgrounds make them perfect to build this business and we are excited to be part of the journey,” said Amit Anand, managing partner, Jungle Ventures.
SweetEscape has also started moving into the business photography segment, providing food photography, real-estate photography, headshots and more servicing a growing portfolio of regional and global clients that includes WeWork, P&G, and HSBC. The company aims to provide a very seamless experience for local business owners to create quality visual content for their businesses and allowing them to scale more efficiently through better imaging.
SweetEscape is at the forefront of the increasingly dynamic travel and photography industry. With a tap of a finger, customers can book a photo session in less than a minute, edited photos can then be downloaded through the app within 48 hours.