How’s this for a company doing things differently: no physical inventory, a flipped buying model, and a business plan in which their greatest wish is to see their customers move on to their competitors.
Confused? Welcome to Death To Stock, a company as edgy and innovative as their name suggests.
Founded in 2013 by Allie Lehman and David Sherry, the company began with a simple email to fellow creatives where they offered to share unused photos from commissioned photo shoots. From there, Death To Stock, also known as DTS, launched a free monthly newsletter with 10 free photos, then later began offering paid monthly subscription packages. These allowed customers to access the entire photo library and also receive a monthly delivery of curated photographs for download.
Four years and hundreds of thousands of subscribers later, Death To Stock is committed to breaking pretty much every established rule out there‚ especially when it comes to inventory.
Sherry explains that DTS is in a unique position when it comes to inventory, because their product is digital; it’s able to be effortlessly bought, remixed, and used in a different way by each and every customer who downloads it. Its digital form also allows them to sidestep the typical inventory issues that most small business owners encounter.
DTS Chief Operating Officer Shaun Singh says, “It breaks every single rule. Storage costs are a fraction of what they would be and there’s no depreciation of our inventory—it actually increases with value the more assets we add to it.”
That’s because DTS has taken a different approach to marketing their inventory, they don’t sell the product (an image) individually like most stock photo sites do, they sell a story instead.
“If you want a specific photo, like of a dog eating an ice cream, we’re definitely not the people for you,” laughs Singh, “We cater to people who aren’t quite sure what they’re looking for. They might just have a theme or a vibe to go on…We take our photos and group them into photo packs with clear stories—about love, ambition, exploration—and with those photos they can choose to take it a step further.”
Grouping photos together to tell a story, evoke a feeling, or encompass a particular theme in order to inspire their customers towards creation is something that DTS founders feel is just as important as the product itself. Without it, they’re just another stock photo company. With it and their offbeat, upside-down approach to business, however, they become the catalyst for creativity, rather than the last step in the creative process.