To St. Louis startup, a picture’s worth more than a thousand words

Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 in Featured Stories, Innovation Tuesday | 0 comments

By Renee Moore, staff writer.

Snap a picture of the scoreboard after a Blues game and tweet it out. Take a picture of your daughter stuffing her bear at Build-A-Bear and post it to Instagram. Those pictures, which fall under the heading of User Generated Content, may appeal to a broader audience far beyond your followers and friends.

According to Christina Hawatmeh, founder and CEO of Scopio, eighty-six percent of businesses use content marketing. Until Scopio, there hasn’t been an easy way to connect businesses that are interested in purchasing social media-generated content directly with individuals who upload images.

Hawatmeh says Scopio is the first solution to find and license user-generated content in a way in which users get paid for their work, and businesses get a way to use social images legally, efficiently and in real time.

As a high tech social image agency, Scopio streamlines the copyright process for user-generated images and videos. “We’re an image marketplace,” states Hawatmeh. “We’re disrupting the photo industry by creating a space between the 2-4 billion images that are uploaded every day on social media and brands looking to use those images commercially.” Scopio is the social image equivalent to iStock photos or Getty images.


Click here to hear Christina Hawatmeh on KMOX Radio

As a licensing platform, Scopio offers an end-to-end solution for attaining rights to user generated content. Through Scopio’s dashboard, companies can search keywords and hashtags on the image content they are searching for. Curated images will continuously fill on the company’s dashboard. From there, companies use Scopio to directly message the individual to ask for permission to use their photo. The individual receives a message that the company is able to custom craft, asking for permission to publish their photo and a link to a shortened agreement. The individual, often by surprise, receives the message as a comment on Instagram, or a reply on twitter. The contributor opens a shortened link, and adds their email to confirm. The company then gets an alert that the image has been authorized for use. Most people don’t realize that they own their photos. Hawatmeh makes it very clear, “We allow people to get paid for their pictures.”

Having real-time access to authentic images of people directly engaging with a product or brand is an essential component of business strategy today. Kissmetrics, a blog about analytics, marketing and testing, found that content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. During her customer discovery, Hawatmeh learned that user-generated media, on a website, email marketing campaign, or social media attracts more hits and views than stock photography.

“People are desensitized to glossy ads and perfectly shot clips. Real pictures, not produced scenes, get ten times more clicks on websites, and customers are more apt to connect with other people that are posting rather than being sold something.”

For the past two years, Hawatmeh and her team have developed the technology that finds and curates image content from social media. Scopio sources specific hashtags and keywords and scrapes every image as it comes through. For example, Bud Light can see and engage with every user-generated image that has been posted to #upforwhatever, by just logging into Scopio’s dashboard.

An essential part of Scopio’s product development was creating an easy and efficient way for their clients to find and organize images. Hawatmeh notes that one of her clients was spending five hours per day searching for images, and obtaining rights from individuals. The process was manual, limiting, and messy. Hawatmeh claims Scopio reduced this client’s time searching for User Generated Content to less than 10 minutes.

Hawatmeh sums up the benefit of authentic images in this way: “Every potential customer lives online. Business can now use a real picture to build a stronger and longer term relationship with a specific audience. We allow businesses to reach customers by collecting images and directly engaging with their audience.

Scopio, an Arch Grants recipient, has launched its pilot dashboard, and has 25 pilots with major ad agencies, brands or media publishers lined up for 2016.

Hawatmeh, who earned a Master of International Affairs (MIA) from Columbia University in New York, says she’s happy to return home to St. Louis. “Our design and engineering team will stay in New York, but our business development team will be headquartered here in St. Louis, to closely engage with companies on beta. For most of the companies piloting with Scopio, this will be the first time they use a licensing tool. Receiving the Arch Grant and getting our first angel investors was a huge milestone for us. We look forward to populating St. Louis images online,” she says.

To learn more, reach out to Hawatmeh directly at

Link to Scopio Demo












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