Anyone with a Facebook account will have seen a new breed of profile picture popping up, writes Jessica Baron. From a glance, it looks like a traditional strip of photo booth poses, but look closer and you’ll start noticing the over-sized sunglasses, sticks with moustaches and even payot.
And it’s a safe bet that at least some of the pictures were taken by Megabooth. Rachel Posner from Loughton, in Essex, set up Megabooth three years ago. She describes it as a “unique photo booth company” – whereas rivals offer a traditional booth set up at weddings, bar- mitzvahs, birthday parties and other functions, Megabooth installs their photo booths in the back of vintage cars.
The chosen car is usually decorated with “a range of crazy props”, including unicorn and other animal heads, top hats, sailor hats, wigs, inflatable monkeys and sharks, speech bubbles and gold antique frames – and guests get unlimited printouts for the whole evening. Megabooth came about more by accident than by design.
The 24-year-old tells me: “It was a friend’s idea to put a photo booth in his own car and take it to festivals all over the UK. At the beginning it was just a bit of fun, but it turned out that the events world was really interested.” Posner is the company’s director and also deals with the “creative side of things”, drawing on her degree in art and design from Central Saint Martins.
The business side is dealt with by Posner’s business partner Lee Hoppen, whose background is in events planning. Thanks to their experience, Posner and Hoppen had an almost ready-made set of suppliers for the Megabooth business. “We got the cars grafittied [with the Megabooth logo] for free by friends. I do the photography and we got lots of friends to dress up for our promotional photo shoot and set up the website,” she says.
As a result of these “favours” Megabooth is a rare thing – a start-up company that required no loan and very few start-up costs. “We didn’t put a lot of money into it at the beginning because we weren’t sure if it would work.” But it did. “We started at the perfect time for the market. Photo booths were just starting to get big.”
As with all start-ups, Posner and her team had to hustle at the beginning. She recalls one of Megabooth’s first corporate clients: “When we started, we worked our hard- est to get our name out there and to start working with some major brands.
An example of this was when Santander contacted us and wanted our taxi to be black and silver inside and out and fitted with chandeliers within three days. And the event was in Wales. “On the way, we were still stapling down the carpet that was requested and gluing on the final touches!
Santander was pretty impressed by the turnaround and continues to book us almost four years later.” Posner tells me that Megabooth’s client list has been “amazing”, with the majority of clients being corporate firms and industry parties, but in the summer “weddings kick off massively”.
Having a Megabooth at your event can set you back anywhere between £300 and £12,000. For this, you get a fully customised Megabooth car, complete with a camera screen on which you can see yourself, a Bluetooth keyboard, which allows you to change the colours of your picture, and an endless array of wacky accessories.
From the corporate world, notable clients include Toys R Us, Ray-Ban, Tesco, ASOS, Google, Cancer Research and Time Out, as well as Santander. Megabooth also has the impressive accolade of being able to call itself the “official photo booth for the Brit Awards” while the long list of celebrities who have hired Megabooth for their parties includes Stella McCartney, Kate Moss, Chris Evans and Stacey Solomon.
If your head isn’t already reeling from this list of very recognisable names, prepare for some more impressive name dropping.
Posner met Prince Charles at the Ideal Home Show: “He decided to jump into our photo booth and loved it!” She has also toured the UK with a Barbie booth for Universal Pictures and even managed to get an invitation to Gordon Ramsey’s house for lunch when Megabooth entertained at his daughter’s birthday party.
Posner adds that the company is also close to the Jewish community. It has put on a free event for Camp Simcha every year and frequently features at events organised by Aish. A look at its Facebook page reveals contestants from The X Factor snapped inside a Megabooth, pictures from the wedding of hairdresser Lee Stafford and snaps of various customised cars, such as a graffitied black cab called the Attention Seeker and a British mini designed for Virgin Media.
Despite these glamorous perks and autograph book-worthy meetings – and coverage in magazines such as You and Your Wedding after Megabooth was hired for the editor’s wedding – Megabooth is a tough business to run. The core team consists of three – Posner, Hoppen and head of events, Elliott Gold. She describes her colleague as a “number one schmoozer – clients and guests love him and always rebook when he works for them!”
The company also hires in between 10 and 20 part-time members of staff and freelancers to help cater larger events. Posner explains: “Most weekends we have two or three events and can finish at crazy times. The other week we had an event in Manchester and were driving back to London at 2am.” She says it is worth it. “The events are enjoyable and when you’re setting up a business, you have to put a lot of work in to get anything out of it”.
Looking at the figures, Posner hasn’t stood still since the business took off. Turnover has grown 502 percent in the three years they have been trad- ing; Megabooth was nominated for Business of the Year at this year’s TrainE-TraidE awards and there are plans ahead for expansion and franchises.
She adds: “We have new products launching every six months. Our latest project is a DIY photo booth kit, which you will be able to buy in shops such as Paperchase by October.” Beyond this, there are plans to expand through- out the UK and into the US – not bad for a company that started life in the back of a friend’s car.
•More at: http://megabooth.com/