For the past few months I’ve been hard at work on a small startup. While I’ve hinted around to it on social networks, I haven’t outwardly announced the company’s existence until today. I’d like to introduce (launching October 2015)…

The Company…

There is a large market for used photography gear that is completely uncatered to. Retailers of new equipment often have a department that buys & sells used gear, but since the margins are generally low it’s treated as a loss leader, or service to their customers, more so than a profit center. The very few websites that strictly sell used photography gear rely on marketplace and auction websites such as eBay and Amazon. Individuals looking to buy & sell their own used equipment often rely on word of mouth or post free listings on Craigslist and social media sites.

The biggest drawback to selling photography gear on other marketplace websites are the fees! On top of the initial listing fee, which is due regardless if the item sells or not, there is a final valuation fee based on a percentage of the selling price. Used cameras & lighting equipment often reach into the thousands of dollars, translating into final selling fees well into the hundreds! Multiply that amount per item sold and you will quickly realize that individuals and businesses lose a significant portion of their profits to fees.

OK, so why Shutter Trade?

Like eBay & Etsy, Shutter Trade will also operate under the marketplace business model. Customers (individuals and businesses alike) can focus on listing their items, then leverage the marketing & advertising provided by the marketplace itself for traffic & sales. Where we will differ is in our pricing structure!!! Rather than knocking customers over the head in fees, we will take a very minimal cut on certain transactions:

  1. Listing fees have been eliminated altogether! Users will never pay to simply list an item on
  2. Rather than instituting a final valuation fee based on a percentage of the sale price, will charge a flat fee of $5 per item sold over $100. Items under $100 will be completely free to both list & sell!

How is that even possible???

For a site such as eBay, Etsy, or Amazon, the final selling price of an item is completely irrelevant to their operating costs. This is because they are only matching buyers & sellers together, no money is invested in the actual items being sold at their website. However, due to the shear size of their companies, they must charge a fee on a sliding scale in order to turn a profit.

Shutter Trade will operate in very specific ways in order to reduce monthly operational costs, allowing us to be profitable even with a much cheaper flat rate:

  • Specialization – We will only cater to a specific market. Rather than being good at selling everything to everyone, we only have to be great at marketing to photographers. While there are several eight-hundred pound guerrillas in the new photography gear market, there is no commonly recognized “go to” place to purchase used photography gear. All marketing efforts will go into making Shutter Trade exactly that!
  • Strategic Partnerships – As mentioned above, there are several large online retailers of new & used photography gear. Special concessions will be made to these retailers that will reduce their startup cost on Shutter Trade, in both time and money, to almost zero (removing the primary reasons that would prevent them from doing large volume business with us). Going forward, the greatly reduced fees as compared to other marketplaces will help secure those businesses as long term customers.
  • Incubator Space & Telecommuting – Rather than spending funds on expensive office space and equipment, a working space has been approved at a business incubator in the Chicagoland area. This space will be available for associates of Shutter Trade to use. However, Shutter Trade encourages telecommuting! Long term, the telecommuting working model will provide a tremendous savings benefit to the company (as well as minimize the negative impact commuting has on the environment!).

Got it! So how can I help? is still in the development stages, but there are two ways you can help. Either one will be GREATLY appreciated…

  1. Donate to our Kiva Zip campaign! Kiva Zip is a crowdfunding service similar to Kickstarter, only they provide 0% interest loans rather than freely give the funds away. This means that, on top of helping out a budding company, you will receive your funds back!
  2. Take our survey! This 10 question survey should only take less than 60 seconds, but it will go a LONG way in helping us provide a better user experience!
  3. Sign up for the Shutter Trade Newsletter to stay in tune with the happenings of the company!


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Special thanks…

I want to give special thanks to a few organizations that have helped me tremendously! Please visit their websites and learn more about the outstanding efforts they are putting forth towards entrepreneurship in Chicago and across the country!

Blue | 1647
Kiva Zip

By the way, why are you doing this?

As a student at The Pennsylvania State University, I was often exposed to cutting edge IT related research. I went on to develop countless web & mobile applications over the following 16 years as a software engineer. As great as those projects were, none of them excited me in the way that has!

My two biggest passions are programming and photography! Not counting the occasional website built for a fellow photographer here and there, they’ve always entertained me in ways that were quite separate from one another. I often dreamed of merging the two in a way that would be profitable. Now that I’ve found it, I’m going all in!

Author: Jabari Hunt

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