Buzzy Booth is a photo booth like none other. While you smile for the camera with your friends and family, Buzzy Booth works its marketing magic to promote several different companies, including restaurants, casinos and hotels. Buzzy Booth is essentially a social media station that sends the photos that are taken to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, with a banner stating your current location. Thanks to creator Jolina Li and her seven-person team in San Francisco, California, Buzzy Booths are making their way inside major companies, including the Hard Rock Café.
Li grew up in the restaurant business, as many of her relatives own restaurants. When she saw the high competition of the industry, she began to think of creative ways for companies to stand out.
Li realized the ongoing popularity of photo booths could be used as an advantageous tool. Buzzy Booth became a marketing tool, a little over a year ago, that keeps the promotional job fun. “I saw how popular it was for people to take a picture at a photo booth and I saw the opportunity to put a branding on it. I had a problem – how do I get customers to share something? I wanted to make it easier for people to share photos. We tried to incorporate the photo sharing and make it fun and easy for the customers,” Li said.
Li tried to submit her idea to the hit ABC show Shark Tank, but wasn’t accepted. She didn’t give up. She decided to make a video on her own and post it to YouTube. Fortunately for her, the producer of the show later reached out to her, giving Li another opportunity to be on the show, “After tweeting to some of the Shark Tank employees, someone reached out to the producer and he ended up calling me. It was just luck. I wasn’t expecting anything,” Li expressed.
She has now been offered the chance to appear on Shark Tank and has passed the initial vetting rounds.
Li bootstrapped Buzzy Booths from the beginning, self-funding the project entirely. Now that the company is growing, she is generating enough cash flow to carry the business’ expenses, and work on new revenue streams.
“We are currently adding a stage that when we share the photo on Facebook it will show the branding and a link with the photo and a caption that is clickable. When you click on it, it leads to a page that has some deals for the restaurant, like buy one get one half off,” she expressed. “This is obviously way cheaper than something like Groupon because we do not charge anything for that,” Li explained, when discussing the benefits for the companies that decide to work with Buzzy Booth.
Buzzy Booth is gaining publicity and the company was recently asked to take part in Leather and Laces, an annual celebrity Super Bowl party in San Francisco. Hosted at the swank venue, City View at Metreon, guests have included stars like actor Jeremy Piven, celeb blogger Perez Hilton and singer Justin Beiber. Buzzy Booth was in the house and guests took fun photos to celebrate the NFL’s biggest night.
Li said that seeing the positive feedback from customers and companies makes all of the hard work and dedication to making this product successful, worth it. “Seeing my product out and seeing that people are telling other people about my product through referrals and repeated customers keep me motivated,” Li said.
While she’s thrilled that Buzzy Booths are landing big gigs, Li also wants to have an effect on smaller, less well-known companies. She believes that she can really help make a difference for their brands. “I really hope to get into a lot of businesses. I know that it’s really easy to get the big brands, since they understand and have the budget, but in the end I want to help small businesses as well.”
Currently, the Buzzy Booth team is seeking seed funding to scale the business. “We will always continue adding on new features to make it more fun” Li said, when describing her hopes for the future.
Evelyn Fiske is a junior, English major, at Western New England University. She loves tackling each day with a positive attitude and lots of coffee. Evelyn hopes to one day teach English in another country, with her biggest goal being to positively effect everyone she meets.