Many ambitious individuals want to be trailblazers. They want to make ground-breaking changes to the way people perceive the world.
In reality, few business people actually earn the right to use that term. So a true pioneer has to be genuinely radical.
Christina Hawatmeh deserves to be called a trailblazer. She built Scopio, a diverse image marketplace company that changed the landscape of visual storytelling and now hosts more than 14,000 artists from more than 150 countries and serves more than 25,000 businesses. It also enables artists to get their images downloaded and be hired for creative skills like art, design, music, photography, and video.
Creating A Truly Diverse Platform
Christina dreams about changing the way we perceive the world through images. Her company, Scopio, boasts the largest library of authentic photos and the most diverse artist base on the internet.
She set it up with her business partner Nour Chamoun, whom she met in New York. Nour used her skills to design an environment where this talent universe could thrive, and Scopio could take advantage of the global access provided by social media for the first time ever. Together, they have tackled usage rights, cost and access to make their platform accessible for everyone.
“(When we started Scopio) we saw the cheesiness of stock photography and the racial issues (associated with images like ‘woman eating salad’) and realised that what we were doing was going to be a really big deal because every website, book, and presentation on earth was using these photos,” the entrepreneur recalls.
It was vitally important to Christina to give a microphone for the underrepresented. They wanted to create a platform where any creator from around the world could participate in less than three minutes. Scopio also enables them to monetise their images, so they can go from phone owner to paid artist or photographer simply by signing up and uploading their creations. They can then list their skills and make money through illustrations, art, videos and other visual formats.
“Art, photography, and images we are exposed to on a daily basis can shape the way we perceive the world around us,” the entrepreneur explains. “Many times, these art forms are highly filtered to show a very specific type of image that casts out minority groups, reserving the industry for few kinds of people and particularly excluding members of our youngest generation.”
And it is not just about diversity in images. Scorpio is passionate about giving artists from all backgrounds the opportunity to express their talent in ways that add value to our visual world.
“Scopio's vision is to allow artists, via their images and art, to tell their stories no matter where they come from with the ultimate goal of being able to use these images to more accurately depict our world and spark creativity,” Christina explains. She says, “GenZ is coming in as the most “entrepreneurial” generation in history. The gig economy is expanding three times faster than the US workforce as a whole, and 60% of the US workforce will be independent by 2027, according to studies by Upwork and Statista. We support their art by giving them an opportunity to make money and build their careers, wherever they are.
Scopio stands for “Scope It Out.” The founders see their platform as a fishing net for the world’s content. Initially, they collected content through a search engine that found breaking images from Twitter and Instagram capturing. However, when Facebook changed the way their platform worked, they knew it was the time to harness this content for history.
So they set up a website and a submission page and asked all the creators they were in contact with to sell them their photos and build their pages. It worked, and when other photographers heard about the site, it began to grow very quickly until it reached the level it is at today. They have turned the funnel upside down and made it possible for the 99% to participate.
Making A Genuine Difference
Christina wants Scopio to be a place where creative people from all over the world can go to tell stories through their art. Images on Scopio are even making their way to an award-winning book in 2021. Each image includes a story about surviving COVID from ordinary people to the best artists around the world. She is passionate about helping Generation Z monetize their skills and share their perspective so we can all understand each other better.
It also enables companies to find visual building blocks for authentic experiences, and many businesses have already caught on to how powerful Scopio’s mission is. The platform attracts all kinds of companies, from behemoths, to real estate professionals, bloggers, NFT artists, local shops, and schoolteachers – all of them looking to use authentic imagery in their content.
“While I was studying politics at George Washington University, I worked in the US Congress,” Christina recalls. “I was trying to understand how the world works. I tried to learn in more ways and had a variety of experiences working at a Seed Stage VC and attending graduate school at Columbia University, where I built prototypes and ideas around storytelling. Then the Arab Spring, the Black Lives Matter movement and the Venezuela protests began to heighten my urgency around this opportunity to make a lasting impact. My fascination with technology as a powerful new political platform grew. It could give people the opportunity to democratise their feelings so others can see them and understand them, without barriers.”
“I thought, ‘Wow, isn’t it so powerful and awesome that we can now learn about each other in that visually chilling way?’ That’s when I realised that if I’m going to dedicate my life to something as big as what I’d thought in my head, then I couldn’t think of a bigger impact I could personally have to help the next generation understand each other and the world better and actually get paid to grow their ideas, stories and art.”