In this podcast, we interview Olivier Lemarié, VP of Growth at PhotoRoom, a mobile app that offers AI-powered photo editing tools. Olivier shares insights on the differences between growth strategies in the gaming and utilities industry, the challenges of scaling a business across multiple markets, and the importance of experimentation and community-building.
PhotoRoom has over 50 million installs and counting, with a growing number of paying subscribers. Olivier Lemarié has an impressive background in growth, having worked in the French streaming app Molotov prior to PhotoRoom. In this interview, he shares his perspective on
Growth Strategies in Gaming vs. Utility apps
Olivier highlights that although gaming and utility apps share the ability to explore diverse growth strategies for achieving a global presence, there are notable differences between the two.
In the case of gaming apps, they have long been at the forefront of the non-recurring business model, relying heavily on in-app purchases (one-time purchases) to drive revenue. Consequently, these apps have developed a remarkable level of sophistication in predicting lifetime user value, user acquisition, and all aspects related to predicting user churn.
On the other hand, many utility apps are centered around a subscription-based model, which compels them to focus on enhancing funnel optimization and effectively communicating the subscription's value proposition to users.
Scaling a Business Across Multiple Markets
Olivier's experience at Molotov, a streaming service only available in France, showed him the unique challenges of targeting only one market when trying to grow and test new ideas without negatively impacting the brand.
However, at PhotoRoom, he has the freedom to experiment and test in less strategic markets without compromising their brand. They can pivot their focus to other markets if a specific one doesn't produce the desired results.
For instance, since the UK market is highly competitive for photo and video apps, PhotoRoom used their learnings from the US market and shifted their attention to markets like Japan, Germany, and Taiwan.
Challenges Ahead for PhotoRoom’s Growing Business
As PhotoRoom's team and business continue to grow, Olivier identifies two key challenges:
Olivier emphasizes the importance of giving team members strong ownership over their projects and providing them with the right tools to execute experiments quickly.
Leveraging TikTok Content for User Acquisition
PhotoRoom's focus on delivering visually stunning content made it a perfect match for leveraging TikTok as a means of user acquisition. With a vast network of content creators, the community team is consistently sourcing high-quality content from around the world.
Today, the global community of PhotoRoom creators spans across many countries, including the US, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and France.
Growth Advice for Utility Apps
Olivier offers some growth advice for utility apps. He emphasizes the importance of giving team members strong ownership and trust, making experimentation easy, and understanding the culture and needs of different markets. Olivier advises growth professionals not to overlook markets outside the US, as there may be low-hanging fruit in regions such as Japan, Taiwan, Germany, and South America.
Olivier's insights on growing a photo editing app offer valuable lessons for apps in the utility/photo editing category. By leveraging the gaming app industry's expertise in LTV prediction and paid acquisition, building a community of content creators, and staying agile and experimental, PhotoRoom is successfully growing its user base and subscriber base.
More about Olivier
Currently VP Growth at PhotoRoom, the leading AI photo-editing app for commerce, Olivier Lemarié has been leading revenue and user base growth since 2020. Recently, PhotoRoom has reached 50 million installs, has millions of active users and several hundred thousand paying subscribers.
Prior to joining PhotoRoom, Olivier was heading Molotov marketing operations, a TV streaming app used by millions of french households and recently acquired by FuboTV, the leading US sports-first live TV streaming platform.
Episode 20 Sneak Peek
On gaming vs. utility apps
“Gaming app, as they rely a lot on in-app purchase, are much more advanced than utility app in terms of license value prediction and user acquisition and all things related to trending prediction as well because they don't have the choice.”
On growing an app globally
“We need to build an international team out of Europe. English is by default the language and this is kind of what we believe in, but also we think it's successful in our mission.”
On leveraging TikTok for user acquisition
“Some other people started using PhotoRoom and showcasing PhotoRoom on TikTok and we ended up discussing with some of them promoting their content. We built a network of, I would say today, more than 100 content creators who produce content all over the world.”
On international expansion
‘Think international. As a utility app, it's pretty easy to be available everywhere in the world…But there is a tons of big markets elsewhere that are worth digging into. If you look at Japan, Taiwan, in the top five markets for the App Store, and most of western app developers don't think about them because the cultural barrier may be too high. But having one people or a small team focusing on those markets, understanding the culture, adapting the payroll, adapting the onboarding the App Store, it's an effort, of course, but it's not a huge effort to bring significant growth.”
Episode Topics at a Glance
What is PhotoRoom
Market targeting and business strategies when growing an app internationally
TV apps vs. Photo editing and utility apps
PhotoRoom’s challenges ahead
Leveraging TikTok content for user acquisition
Growth tips for utility apps
Balancing ownership in a team
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