From left to right: Ken Winokur, Head of Sales and Photography Operations, Griffin Kelly and Nate Robinson, Flashframe's founders at the California International Marathon after a hard day's work photographing at the finish line. Photo credit: Ruslan Bezruchuk
This year has been tough for Flashframe. As coronavirus has heavily impacted the sports industry, it has also heavily impacted road racing and all endurance sporting events. Subsequently, it has hurt the photographers that typically cover these events. Flashframe was lucky enough to cover one of the last major marathons prior to states prohibiting large crowds, the Woodlands Marathon in Woodlands, Texas, we also had a front-row seat to event cancelations around the world as rolling closures hit all of our international partners.
The Woodlands Marathon was the last race that our head of photography operations, Ken Winokur, organized. Right after that, Griffin, one of our founders, and Ken were talking about an Asia trip to work with our foreign partners. They were discussing the possibility of going to Japan for the Gunma Marathon once again, only to see it canceled as Japan canceled every major running event for the year in early March. They then turned to photography logistics for the Guam Marathon when there was early talk about possible delays due to this new virus coming out of China; attendance was expected to be good as there was probably pent up demand from Japan, but Chinese athletes would most likely be prohibited from attending due to international flight restrictions. The Guam Marathon ended up being delayed a month, then to the fall, then canceled. After the first delay, we started looking towards our many April races in the states, but as soon as we started planning for our early spring half and full marathons, rolling closures started. We saw races like the Flower City Half delayed for a few weeks thinking things would improve, only to see them fully canceled. Most of our scheduled events for April and May were postponed for a few months, then canceled. These rolling cancelations hit us hard and left the entire team without any major races to organize photography for.
After that, Flashframe hosted no events until the late summer when the Pikes Peak Marathon happened. Pikes Peak canceled their much larger half marathon, but still held the full; this was great news for some of the photographers we work with as it was the first time in months that they had the ability to photograph anything. It was great news for us as well, as it was the first new event on the site in months. Since then, Flashframe has seen steady activity across the site, albeit lower than last year. We've had races from around the world uploading photos from events with social distancing guidelines in place, but a photographer is still there to capture the action.
Overall revenue from Flashframe is down over 85% from last year. The number of photos uploaded is similarly down. The only positive is that we still manage to pull in decent traffic and sales from last year's races. We've gotten a number of great and supportive emails from customers cheering us on, and hoping to see us again at races when the industry finally starts to pick back up. Unfortunately hosting and server costs for those photos continue to impact our bottom line, but the revenue we did make in the early first quarter has managed to hold us over for the remainder of the year. Even with the early revenue we had, all of our key employees have had to focus their efforts on other jobs, however, we all anxiously await a time when we can focus more of our attention, once again, on Flashframe. Despite everything, we were lucky enough to take advantage of the EIDL loan, which has allowed us to invest in improvements to our customer experience, user interface, and user experience.
These improvements are visible throughout the new home page, log in, register, and marketing pages that generally describe the features of Flashframe. In all, we've put a strong focus on highlighting the superb photography of the photographers that use our site, making the site easier to navigate, and tried to clarify the features and capabilities of the Flashframe platform. To the general users of the site, people looking to purchase photos of themselves, we've gone through and simplified the checkout flow, and reduced the number of clicks to purchase--something which has been proven to improve conversion rates. Additionally, we've updated fonts and cleaned up pages to make them cleaner, and hopefully easier to navigate. While we saw these improvements critical to the majority of people that interact with our site, we haven't forgotten about our photographers! We're now working hard to improve the internal-photographer side of Flashframe; so many of the features we've built have been added ad-hoc and the user interface wasn't even a second thought. We're now going back, and prioritizing the ease of use, and ensuring that form meets function. We hope that when the sports photography season ramps up again in 2021, Flashframe will be ready to support everyone.