What a wonderful experience we had meeting with the travel photographer, entrepreneur, CEO and soon to be dad, Eduardo Feldman. This passionate photographer, whose pictures have been featured twice on National Geographic front page (!), shared with us how Covid-19 made him pivot his startup Phloc from #traveltech to #edutech.
We would love to hear and learn about your background, where do you come from? What do you do?
I lived my entire life in Mexico City until 2 years ago, when I moved to Israel with my wife. I studied industrial psychology but my true passion has always been photography and travel.
Upon completing my degree, I worked in HR for 6 years, until one day, I decided to go wild and start my own company in Mexico - Fotopaseos. My company provided photography tours in Mexico City to tourists, and as it grew it escalated to organized photography trips to the northern lights in Canada, New York, Chicago, Cuba, Patagonia and more.
My entire marketing and sales operations were through my Facebook page. It was like a normal travel agency but specifically for photographers. Back then, this concept was really innovative, unique and new!
How was that first experience as an entrepreneur?
I loved it! I was doing what I love — which is traveling, taking pictures, and sharing my passion with the clients. The clients were amateur photographers who understood that when you travel and want to take your time and concentrate on the photos, it can be annoying to the people you are traveling with if they don’t share the same passion. Therefore, they really saw the value in traveling with other photographers and an organizer on a trip that was dedicated to only photos. I always took a scouting trip before, so that I knew exactly where to take them at what time for the best and most beautiful pictures.
Phloc.io is your first company here in Israel. Could you tell us a bit more about it?
When I came to Israel, I wanted to change the model of the agency but keep the essence of traveling to take pictures. That’s how I created Phloc in 2019. The idea was to find and empower the best local photographers in each city and teach them how to do photography tours for amateur photographers. That way, Phloc can make sure that its guides will take the amateur photographers to the best locations where ‘picture perfect moments’ are guaranteed!
As an entrepreneur, I needed to hire people and build my team. The skills I got while working in HR helped me a lot. I’m very happy with my team and their performance.
In total we are 6, all new Olim (new immigrants). I’m not sure if this is a coincidence or not. To tell you the truth, I think that olim hadashim are here because they left everything behind, and for me this is a very important statement of personal strength and character.
What was the activity of your company before Covid?
We launched Phloc in December 2019. In February, we started selling our first tours. We had booked night photography tours in Barcelona and street photography in Rome. We had a really nice product with very talented photographers. But then Covid happened and we had to stop all activity completely. For me and my team it was like a slap in the face.
But things happen for a reason and pivoting and readjusting is important. For the moment, the tours and the concept of travel photographers marketplace is on hold. However, I think we are very lucky because what we’re doing now is something new and important.
That’s interesting! How did you adapt your concept to the current situation?
Phloc is an online feedback platform for photographers where we’re connecting professional and amateur photographers, but online! This meshes perfectly with the tours because upon completing a tour, you continue with the feedback and learning aspect from the photographer.
Photography changed significantly in the last 20 years. Back then it was in analogue, now it’s digital and almost everyone has a camera! If you started photography in the 90’s, there was no YouTube so you needed to study it in school. At the end of the courses you would have a feedback session with your teacher. It was part of the education.
Today photography schools are not popular or greatly needed. 90% of the photographers you see taking pictures learned their skills online. Feedback in photography is something that needs a process, especially when an expert looks at your pictures and tells you what’s good and what you need to improve. Nobody is doing this in the digital era. The interaction with an expert is a very specific and personalized experience.
I’m really happy and proud that Phloc is pivoting and evolving into that direction. Bringing back an important step of photography learning from the past, the feedback, and modernizing to give invaluable insights to photographers today and in the future.
Where do you see your company in the next coming years?
I was devastated when I needed to shut down the tours. But I’m not going to stop. I’ve worked so hard. I thought and analyzed a lot throughout the past 4 months before deciding on pivoting to the idea of online “photography feedback”. Now when I think about the future, I see that Phloc has completely adapted to the Covid crisis.
We’re connecting people and photographers online. If Covid ends tomorrow, I’ll restart the tours, but I’ll still keep providing the online feedback tool we’ve developed. Between travel and feedback, Phloc will always have an important place in photography.
Could you tell us about one of the most special moments you managed to capture with your camera?
I visited about 30 countries and saw beautiful and incredible landscapes. But if I had to choose just one, I would definitely choose my capture of the sunrise in Patagonia. It was during the summer. At 4am, after a 45 minutes hike, I arrived at the top of a hill and had the chance to capture that moment. I felt very lucky and thankful to the world and my life.
What achievement are you most proud of?
That’s a tough question.
Back in Mexico and before moving to Israel, I told my wife that if we’re moving to the startup nation, I want to have my own startup. I’m full of ideas, full of energy and I believe in changing and challenging everything around me. When I opened my company, I needed lawyers, accountants and to get permits. For me, when everything was issued and done, it was a really important moment. I felt proud that I managed a great achievement as an Ole Hadash.
What do you love most about Israel? And what are the main differences with Mexico?
People may say that I’m crazy but I love that Israelis are always complaining, that they’re never satisfied with anything. Some people see this as a negative thing, but I like to see the positive side of it, as for me it means that we just want better. I think this is what will always continue the innovation and creating better solutions. Where I come from, people don’t demand that much, and therefore the country is in bad shape..
Also in Israel, as an entrepreneur, I had the opportunity to receive a lot of support. There are mentors and advisors that help entrepreneurs. I’ve been very lucky and found great and very successful CEOs who continuously give me feedback. There are also many meetups with learning and networking experiences. I’ve been very inspired by these talks and events. This is something we don’t have in Mexico. We do have very successful businessmen that are creating huge companies. But we don’t have an ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘startup’ mindset.
Thank you very much Eduardo for sharing about your experience as an Oleh entrepreneur! It was truly inspiring. We wish you the best of luck to you and Phloc!
Check out Eduardo’s pictures on Instagram: @efeldmanphoto.
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