Purdue alumna's startup helps photographers manage their business

April 28, 2015  

Meredith Gradle

Meredith Gradle 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Photographers who run their own business could benefit from a Purdue University alumna's startup that coordinates tasks like client and lead management, workflow management, invoicing and scouting.

Meredith Gradle, who earned her bachelor's degree from Purdue in 2005, developed the startup Iris Works based on her own experiences as a portrait photographer.

"In early 2014, I was struggling to keep up with my business. I had built a strong customer base but was unable to focus on growing it because I was bogged down with the tiny details of running a business," she said. "I looked for a program to manage my studio, but everything was either so intimidating I never made it past a few minutes of perusing it, or it was so incredibly expensive and provided more features than I needed."

Gradle brainstormed ideas on how to make her business more efficient, which led to conducting market research and holding discussions with industry leaders.

"Iris Works was built by photographers," she said. "When I began this journey to help photographers manage their business, I solicited input and advice from photographers of all different genres and geographical locations."

Iris Works organizes current client information, integrates new leads from online sources, sends automated messages, manages workflow timelines and document templates, and tracks the status of invoices.

"Iris Works provides the key integral pieces that are necessary to build and grow a portrait photography business," she said. "We even provide templates about how a portrait photographer should handle sessions, from start to finish."

All users are offered a free 30-day trial, with no credit card information required. Users can subscribe to the service for a monthly fee or an annual fee paid up front.

"We also offer an online gallery feature, which allows photographers to digitally share their images with their clients," Gradle said. "This feature starts at $15 per month, and users can increase their storage capacity as needed."

Gradle said Purdue Foundry has been instrumental in the development of Iris Works.

"Mike Shepard, one of the entrepreneurs-in-residence, has provided ongoing counsel since I met him last year," she said. "I was a little further along the path to create my company than some entrepreneurs who visit Purdue Foundry, but the idea really took shape while working with Mike. Every part of the process was structured, and there were a lot of difficult questions asked. But with Mike's guidance I was able to answer those questions and move forward with my vision for the company."

About Iris Works

The concept for Iris Works originated with our founder Meredith Gradle, a portrait photographer who wanted comprehensive support to grow her business. Most photography studio management software didn't work for a small business like Meredith's - they were bulky, difficult to set up and expensive. The need for a solution that worked for photographers just like her led Meredith to create Iris, an all-inclusive studio management system.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org 

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342, sgmartin@prf.org

Source: Meredith Gradle, 317-727-6319 meredith@iris-works.com 

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