Are you a Snapchat user looking for new inspiration? Or perhaps you’re a Snapchat novice, unsure how to harness the power of this latest social media app? If either of those are true, take a read of the below interview with Business Management – Entrepreneurship BA (Hons) student, Pascal Sabatnig. Alongside his studies, Pascal is the Founder and CEO of GeofilterStudios, a start-up focusing on Snaphat marketing. As an active entrepreneur Pascal has launched GeofilterStudios via his creative agency SBTG – Design & Media Agency. Along with a team of designers he produces outstanding bespoke geofilters for businesses and individuals whilst working with organisations to create integrated Snapchat strategies:

Introducing the CEO & Founder of GeofilterStudios, Pascal Sabatnig

Hi! I’m Pascal Sabatnig, studying in my third year of the Business Management – Entrepreneurship BA (Hons). Why did I choose my course? Well, I come from a very creative background and in the Austrian school system, at a certain stage you have the option to specialise in a specific area; I chose to go to a very creative school called “Die Graphische” in Vienna and attended their Department of Multimedia. I had five years of education in various creative areas as well as studying general high-school subjects, and developed skills in graphic design, web design, video and photography. It was always my dream to come to London and when I visited Westminster five years ago, I was impressed; I liked the fact that it was so central and I liked the fact that they offered such a variety of different courses. The reason I 100% went for it was because I see myself as entrepreneurial and the course description perfectly matched what I was going for. I realised that although I’m super creative, there were other skills that I didn’t have, and Westminster offered me an opportunity to develop these. I also knew that I was going to be self-employed and what I was missing from my previous education was knowledge of business. I wanted a mix of theoretical knowledge/teaching and a creative teaching approach. I felt like Westminster offers this especially with the Entrepreneurship pathway and on this course I feel like I still have the freedom I had five years ago in high school when I first started experimenting with ideas and setting up my own company.

Website deigned by Founder & CEO of GeoFilters, Pascal Sabatnig

Tell us about your start-up, GeofilterStudios

GeofilterStudios came out of the back end of my creative agency SBTG – Design & Media Agency – it came out of pure interest with current Snapchat trends and the fact that Snapchat is currently the fastest growing social media “network”. We looked at what we could do for clients who wanted to try out something new and we asked ourselves the question, ‘what can we offer them?’ Out of our research we decided to focus both on the individual and business clients; we then decided we needed to offer education as well as strong design capabilities.

Why education? Because many people don’t know about Snapchat, the things you can try out in Snapchat, or why it could benefit them; so from one perspective we try to educate people with the knowledge that we have right now. After that we help our clients to develop a strategy, especially in terms of Geofilters, the main ad tool that snapchat has to offer for the public right now.

Why are we doing this for individuals? It’s quite simple – it’s becoming super common everywhere that people have a geofilter for their own events, whether that’s their birthday, wedding, baby bridal, girls night out etc. It’s a great thing if all of your friends use Snapchat – you can brand the location you’re using, upload it as a gift to someone or as a surprise. Again, individuals don’t necessarily have the design skills to make something great and yet that’s what they want – because right now everything looks beautiful, it looks perfect. They don’t want just a bad design that their friend made –  that’s why we currently filling up our own online design shop with a variety of different customisable templates. It’s easy for anyone to purchase a filter – they just go online, browse the different categories of filters available, click the template they like the most and enter their details to customise it. it costs around £8.00!


For Snapchat novices, how does it all work?

So it’s very simple. You just download the Snapchat app, create an account & encourage people to follow you. Whenever you take a photo, you can use different filters to edit it. There are different filters available, from colour filters, to gradient overlays up to geofilters. Like normal Snapchat filters they are a design you can overlay onto a photo you take in the app. But geofilters are different because they are only available when you are in a certain location.

Once you take a photo or video on Snapchat you simply need to swipe to the right to find the filter you want. After swiping four-five times you will end up with geofilters – the main idea behind geofilters is that they let you show your followers/friends where you are, because that is the only way how you can do so on Snapchat.

What Snapchat has been doing for about 5-6 months now is that it’s allowed those geofilters to be made by literally everyone and include more than just a design for a certain location (e.g. when you are in Soho you will have a Soho filter). So-called On-Demand Geofilters can be purchased by brands, businesses and individuals; it is open to the public in the same way as Facebook ads are and you can purchase your filter ad, choose the location you want to place it on by dragging and dropping on an area of the map, choose the time you want it to be available and Snapchat will then show you the price of your filter choice. If you you want to go ahead to purchase the filter, you just upload the filter design directly on Snapchat’s website and if you have followed all guidelines the filter gets approved and is ready to use.


How does GeofilterStudios differentiate itself? Why should clients come to you?

Okay so there are roughly 15 – 20 GeofilterStudios competitors; the way we differentiate is through the artistry/design aspect. I’m a perfectionist and perfection is everything. The second main reason we started GeofilterStudios was because of our passion for exceptional, high quality design. This isn’t something that many people are able to achieve on their own and there are many businesses/organisations who don’t have their own in-house design teams or agencies to work with. We offer an online design shop for our “individual” customers, and we have different designers in our team from graphic designers to typographers to illustrators, so that we can offer as much variety as possible. They mainly work on a freelance basis and liaise with the clients to get the design they’re looking for. Other services that we offer include submitting the filter for the clients and securing some data (metrics) for them too. At the moment the analytics available for Snaphat are still quite limited but we believe this will change.


What are the main challenges to your start-up?

The biggest challenge we’ve seen so far is Snapchat themselves launching a similar service. This happened just a couple of weeks ago and although I was expecting something like that it was still frustrating. We’d researched but there was no sign of concrete plans which indicated they were going to go ahead with this.

Snapchat’s service is a free service based on a similar concept where you can customise designs, but what they don’t have at the moment is such a high variety of designs. If they take this further, we believe we can differentiate ourselves through our artistry and personalisation. A part of our strategy to overcome this is to work with very high end, specialist brands (such as big fashion labels) and collaborate on designs. We’ve also already worked with some really good clients, and their testimonials and reviews will help our success.

What we’re working on at the moment is developing our briefs and creating marketing material that we can send off to various brands and organisations. We need to get in touch with all those people directly, because even with having everything set up (website etc), this doesn’t do the job on its own. We’re also producing some ads and an ad video which shows how people can use Snapchat, but this is still in the making. We will also work with influencers, by giving them one geofilter for free. They then use it and advertise it for us.


What do you think it means to be an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is about coming up with an idea that matters to you and then creating and going through the process making it reality. Of course it has to be something that can make money at some point, however thats not what its generally about. If you don’t want to go to bed because you want to continue working, because you want your idea to happen that badly than being an entrepreneur is the real thing for you.

This creative freedom, the pure belief in something and then actually seeing how it starts to shape and form in reality – it’s the best thing ever! One thing to be said, I am 100% sure that everyone could easily come up with an idea right now – but without the execution, even if you are active like crazy, you will never have anything. Also if you want to be an entrepreneur you need to be able to communicate your vision, find a team who buys into it and believes in the same as you do. At the end of the day you will work 24/7 with your full heart and full body – and without having at least somone around you to directly support you, you will get lost!

It’s also being able to accept that failure happens. Just being able to accept that something didn’t work out and getting over it – moving on and not getting too emotional about it. It’s good to write lists and talk to your friends about it, don’t hide it – the fact counts that you tried something and you learnt from it.


Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Definitely just start doing something – don’t just talk! You need to practice things and actually build something and try it out. That’s what we did with GeofilterStudios, and at least if it doesn’t work out I have learn so much throughout the process, this can not be taken away from me anymore, plus I might have created some data around this new trend. I would also suggest that you go to lots of networking events about social media and finally, find the right people to work with you – you’re not going to build anything alone.

And please do not forget: be patient! Nobody is going to build the next Facebook or Apple overnight 🙂

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