Visual 1st holds virtual conference, announces award winners

The Visual 1st imaging conference went virtual this year, with two days of three-hour virtual sessions featuring the event’s customary fireside chats, panel discussions and demos. The Oct. 14-15 event was well-attended by imaging executives from around the world, despite the absence of the in-person networking that has become the hallmark of the event. (As is customary, sessions were not recorded to enhance the value of in-person connections and networking.)

Among the sessions highlights were: “To acquire or be acquired – that is the question,” with Beth Burkhardt, vice president and general manager, Shutterfly; Rick Bellamy, CEO, RPI, and Andrew Cousin, CEO, Circle Graphics; “Photo Print Product Success Stories” panel,” and “Managing commerce-focused user-generated photo at scale,” with Mak Oh, of Mercari, a community-based shopping app that operates in Japan and the United States.

The conversations will continue this week, Oct. 20-23, with a series of virtual roundtables on the topics of “The do’s and don’ts of expanding your photo print product offerings beyond your initial geographic markets,” “Women in Imaging,” “COVID-19 survival strategies: what to do and not to do? Are there any positive effects on our industry going forward?” and “The do’s and don’ts of photobook marketing strategies in our new reality.”

Conference co-chair Hans Hartman, president of Suite 48 Analytics, posted the award winners:

2020 Visual 1st award winners: Profoto, Mobius Labs, Dotphoton, and Snapbar

Best of Show Award: Profoto

Sami Niemi, Partner at Spintop Ventures, and one of the four judges explained the judges’ choice as follows:

“Profoto has leading products in light shaping (Directional illumination) which are hard to replace just by software or by illumination from the camera device only. We really like how the company has embraced the smartphone camera as a revolutionary new platform for future photography with its even increasing quality and creative capabilities. Profoto’s latest smartphone software in combination with their light shaping hardware will take photography to new levels.”

Best Business Potential Award: Mobius Labs

Fellow judge Anna Dickson, Visual Lead, Google Image Search at Google:

“As the world becomes a more visual place and the use of imagery continues to expand across professions, understanding, organizing and leveraging those visuals becomes more important than ever. We were impressed by the work that Mobius Labs is doing in the space of AI and visual content management.  There’s an opportunity to grow the use of this technology across any business leveraging visuals today and we’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”

Best Technology Award: Dotphoton

Fellow judge Marcel van der Heijden, Partner at Speedinvest:

“When a company founded by two quantum physicists and a professional photographer join forces to build an imaging company, we have to take note. Dotphoton is using deep insights into the quantum processes occurring at the image sensor level to create a lossless compression technology achieving compression ratio’s only seen with lossy methods. With Apple now enhancing support for RAW, the volume and size of images continuing to grow fast, and AI/ML image processing use cases becoming more mission critical in B2B, we believe there’s a bright future ahead for the company.”

Special Recognition Award: Snapbar

Fellow judge Andy Kelm, Managing Director, Palmarés Advisors:

“We all appreciated the company’s story of having to pivot with revenues going to zero overnight due to COVID-19. We were struck by Snapbar’s ability to find an unmet need and focus the team to deliver something entirely new so quickly. The early traction of the new product is impressive, and we celebrate the resilient spirit of Snapbar.”

The Dead Pixels Society podcast talked with Hartman, president of Suite 48 Analytics and chair of Visual 1st, prior to the conference. In this interview, Hartman discusses the program and how the event has adapted to maintain its networking capabilities.