When I got a hold of Kristian Pettyjohn to talk about his startup real estate photo editing firm, PhotoUp, he laughed. He’d forgotten about our call because he was busy working with one of his other startups, a tea factory in Bend, Oregon. Kristian had moved to Bend from the Philippines in 2016 to be close to family.
In preparing this article, I tried Googling Kristian’s name and Bend, and instead of finding the tea factory, I found his product company, Vectto — a library of graphic icons for all kinds of design projects, with a twist. Now it was my turn to laugh. What I discovered was so much like this man I met over the phone: identifying a need and without hesitation jumping on the opportunity to impact lives for the better around the world.
From the customer’s perspective, PhotoUp is a photo editing service. The initial target market is real estate photographers. Without a service like PhotoUp, a photographer can shoot a limited number of houses each day. The rest of her day (and night) must be spent editing the photos to make each home really shine. When she’s done she must find a secure and efficient way to get the photos to her realtor client, who then shares them with the seller. PhotoUp employs over 250 editors in the Philippines who specialize in making real estate photos look great. Overnight they work wonders and in the morning the photographer can deliver photos to her client via PhotoUp’s secure web platform.
From Kristian’s perspective, PhotoUp is a software platform that enables talented individuals in the Philippines with limited creative opportunities to build careers and bless their families. He calls PhotoUp a “not-just-for-profit company” with the mission of helping photographers grow healthy businesses through impact sourcing.
In addition to the photo editors, PhotoUp also employs 40 software developers building the platform that will help all areas of photographers’ businesses. They have already acquired FolioWebsites.com and rebuilt it as a Wix or Squarespace alternative specifically for photographers. Next, they’re adding business management tools. For example, they make it easy for small photography businesses to invoice clients and get paid.
The Way to Up
The path to PhotoUp wasn’t exactly a straight line.
Kristian’s grandfather was a scientist, but a very business-minded one. He must have instilled that mindset into his grandkids. The Pettyjohn family was very active in their church. In fact, as teens, Kristian manned the church video while his brother Stephen ran audio. (Stephen has similarly pursued his passions through his business Pettyjohn Electronics.) They both attended college in Alaska. While pursuing degrees in Finance and Marketing, Kristian also took on software and web development work.
After college, he started his own website business. To meet client needs, he tried outsourcing work to low-cost developers in India, England, and other countries with very limited success. Finally, he found a reliable quality developer in the Philippines named Godwinh (this is the man’s name: Godwinh) and built a solid working relationship with him.