Growth Story: Lynn Gurschke of SpotMyPhotos
Welcome to our Growth Story series, where you’ll meet startup team members—either natives, boomerangs or transplants—in Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Lynn Gurschke, Operations Manager at SpotMyPhotos, a private photo delivery platform used by event professionals that enables your photos to find you.
Where are you from?
Tell us more about your role at SpotMyPhotos. What does a day in the life look like?
What I love most about my position is that it's multidimensional; there aren't many areas of the company I don't touch.
At SpotMyPhotos, we use a variety of pattern recognition and machine learning technologies to seamlessly deliver custom-branded professional photos to those photographed, in real-time. It’s often equated with using facial recognition in event photography, but our technology does so much more, while focusing on preserving peoples’ privacy preferences.
The majority of my time is spent as a Community Manager and Product Manager.
As Community Manager, I work with our licensees who are typically event planners, photographers and photo booth companies. I help to keep them happy and informed. On a macro level, this means managing mass communications. Everything from email campaigns to communications within our platform. At a micro level, I work personally with individual licensees to get them on-boarded and then guide them in how to use the system to achieve their goals. In working closely with them, I also learn about how we can improve features or build new ones, which brings me to the other hat that I often wear.
As a Product Manager, I am the liaison between our community and our technical team. Because I work so closely with our licensees, I am constantly striving to ensure the product is growing to fit their needs. This means I play a critical role in steering product direction and prioritizing development efforts with our technical team. In addition, I help the team build features that are on our tech roadmap to ensure the user experience is nothing less than extraordinary.
This role allows me to work with photographers and photo booth companies not only within the TB region, but also beyond. Organizations of all types in every major metropolitan area of North America are using SpotMyPhotos to grow their brand and wow event attendees. It’s been fun to see our platform take off, and I love meeting folks from all over who are using our platform in different ways.
How did you get your career started and what challenges did you face along the way?
I have always been in client-facing roles, usually ones that have required a strong skill set in customer service and sales. It’s interesting to note, I started this role without a previous background working for tech companies.
I have a background in HR, specifically, recruiting. Coming from a staffing agency, I was constantly managing 30+ HR and Admin associates, across all industries. This experience has proven valuable, as I served as the liaison between my candidates onsite and my clients they were working for- similar to what I do with our product team and licensees.
There are always challenges to overcome with any role. I remember clearly facing a lack of management, as two months into my staffing job, my Division Director left the company. She was valuable and her shoes were hard to fill, so this role remained vacant for over a year. As an already small team, this left my colleagues and I working daunting hours and looking to ourselves for direction when daily struggles arose.
How has this region shaped your career or startup journey?
Tampa has influenced our company positively in many ways. My CEO and Founder recently moved here to open up another office and we have seen great reception from the community. It is exciting to see the entrepreneurial community in the Tampa region being energized with new initiatives focused on growth and innovation.
What tactical advice can you share from building your startup or career?
I have two pieces of advice. The first is to always be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. When you understand where your strengths shine, this allows you to build a truly effective team that fills all the gaps. No one can do it all, and our company prides itself on hiring people to fulfill roles they want and believe they can shine in.
The second piece of advice I would offer is a strategy to increase daily productivity – time blocking. This strategy led me to great success as a recruiter and it still serves me well in my role at SpotMyPhotos. If you're like me and have several things constantly pulling at you throughout the day, you have to find a way to balance your proactive and reactive tendencies. For me, this means diligently and strategically planning my tasks for the day. All too often, people waste time on the "in-between" moments thinking about what to do next. This opens up the risk of becoming distracted and not retaining critical focus on what’s truly important. Time blocking makes sure you are prioritizing your day according to your goals and responsibilities.
Where do you see Tampa Bay next? How do you play a role in this future?
I'm looking forward to seeing Tampa Bay grow. Like the Chicago startup scene, I feel Tampa Bay is working on their own startup city identity, which is exciting to see happen. I saw this first hand when I took part in Rise of The Rest back in May.
As we build SpotMyPhotos from both Chicago and Tampa Bay, I plan to visit Tampa Bay more frequently. We are excited to move into the Embarc Collective space and collaborate with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
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