Boca Raton-based Insurious, a digital insurance agency, appointed photographer and educator Erin Manning as the company’s first brand evangelist.Her production company, Erin Manning Media, specializes in “conception to completion” full-service production, creating inspiring educational content.
“We are extremely excited to have Erin Manning on board as our first Evangelist,” says Matt Sweetwood, CEO. “Her talent, creativity, and business insight will be invaluable to the success of our company. We anticipate that Ms. Manning’s ability to communicate the value of our unique solutions will help to educate our target audience.”
For more on Insurious, check out the Dead Pixels Society podcast with Sweetwood Click Here:
Matt Sweetwood is the CEO and co-Founder of Insurious – The platform for seriously easy equipment insurance. He is a successful serial entrepreneur, professional speaker, business consultant, award-winning marketer, social media influencer, personal branding expert, and photography instructor. Matt was the CEO of Luxnow and beBee. He served as President of Unique Photo®, NJ’s premiere camera store for 28 years. Nationally known in the photography industry as an innovator, he has helped acquire over 25 U.S. and International Trademarks, and he founded and ran the Ozzie Award winning publication Photo Insider®. Matt has been credited with the reinvention of the modern camera store, as well as the country’s largest in-store education program, the Unique University®. Unique Photo was named 2008 and “2013 Dealer of the Year” by Digital Imaging Reporter magazine. Matt was named the Photo Industry’s, “2016 Person of the Year” by the PMDA.
However, by far, his greatest achievement is having raised five successful children to adulthood as a single dad. Matt was awarded full custody of their five children, ages 18 months to 8 years old. In the 25+ years since, he has raised his kids into happy, successful and kind hearted adults. He has a #1 best-selling book, “Leader of the Pack: How a single dad of five led his kids, his business and himself from disaster to success.” In it he details his journey to success as a father and as a business leader.
Matt has appeared as a regular contributor on Fox News, NBC Today Show, CBS TV, News 12 NJ, PIX11, and other high-profile programs. He has also spoken publicly for organizations like Panasonic, UPS, PMDA, Microsoft, NJ Devils Hockey and the BMW CCA, and was a member of the prestigious CMO Club, where he won the President’s Award in 2014.
Matt Sweetwood serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience and a tech start-up founder. He is an internationally known professional speaker, author, coach, and social media influencer. However, his greatest achievement is having raised five successful children to adulthood as a single dad. He is a frequent national TV and publication contributor.
Imagine the following scenario: You’ve finally leaned into your approaching middle age and along the way, you’ve discovered your love for hiking (it’s just walking, but in nature!). You’ve set off on a hike in picturesque Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, camera in hand. You snap some shots of the spruce-fir forest, an impressive view that has been known to trigger extreme FOMO when it comes up in your Instagram feed. Now it’s your turn to experience it. Click.
During lunch, you look forward to going through all the shots on your DSLR camera. As you set down your sandwich and reach for the camera, it’s… not there. It’s at that moment that you realize you lost it. Oh no.
It’s bad enough that all of your photos are lost, but the cost of replacing your Canon will definitely put all of your future hiking trips on hold. You may need to sell your mountain bike now!
But there are ways to avoid paying out of pocket for your lost or stolen camera.
Get a free quote from Insurious, you can get coverage to secure your equipment now:
Is damage to your camera covered by general liability insurance?
Do you already have homeowner or rental insurance? If so, you’re one of the over 50 million Americans whose stuff is covered while at home. Good for you! But if your stuff get lost, damaged or stolen while outside of your place of residence you are not covered. Bad for you!.
What does general liability insurance not cover?
If you cause damage to your own belongings, it isn’t covered by contents insurance. This is called “first-party loss”. So, if you accidentally spill your latte on your camera, or drop it in a canyon when you try to capture that perfect shot – it’s not covered.
Also, if you use your camera for business-related purposes, then damage probably isn’t covered by your insurance either.
How much is the refund?
Home contents insurance is a so-called replacement value insurance. That means, in the event of an accepted claim, you would be reimbursed for the replacement value, which is the amount the same camera would cost in the store if you were to buy it again today. So-called unappreciated depreciation.
What if something happens to my camera when I’m away from home?
Another big advantage of house contents insurance is off-premises coverage.
Off-premises coverage is part of your homeowner policy, and it covers your stuff if it’s stolen or damaged outside of your home. For example, if someone snatches your camera from your locked hotel room, you’d be covered.
Worth noting: Off-premises coverage is usually limited to 10% of the total amount insured. So if you have 30,000 euro of coverage, the external insurance will only cover up to 3,000 euros.
What happens if someone steals your camera equipment from inside your car?
In most cases, electrical equipment, including cameras, isn’t included in car burglary coverage. However, it’s important to read the fine print of your insurance policy to really understand your coverage.
The Insurious Anti-Theft Package
If you buy an Insurious camera equipment policy, you get Anti-Theft coverage automatically in the USA without any additional cost and Worldwide for a small added cost. With this, your belongings are protected against theft from anywhere in the world. If your claim gets approved, you’ll get reimbursed for up to the amount insured not the depreciated value.
It makes no difference to Insurious what type or how old your camera is when you apply for coverage. Your stuff is covered from the moment you buy the policy. BTW, with Insurious you get automatically, the lowest possible deductible of only $200.
Apart from Homeowners’ or Rental insurance (with or without the Anti-Theft Package) – it’s worth checking if the camera company or distributors might cover damage to your favorite camera. More on this topic below…
What does the distributor’s warranty & manufacturer’s warranty cover?
Here’s the good news: Because your digital camera is considered electronic, it comes with a distributor’s warranty of 12 months. But what exactly does that mean?
A distributor’s warranty generally covers production, material, and design defects. But this warranty only applies if your camera was defective from the start. If you bought a defective item, the refund falls under the responsibility of the seller or distributor, like Media Markt or Amazon. You can contact the store and request a repair, or if it’s completely defective, you can request a new device entirely.
Pretty straightforward, right?
If it’s been less than six months since you bought the camera, you shouldn’t run into any problems with the distributor. After six months, however, you will be required to demonstrate that the camera was defective from the start, which could be tough to prove.
What about the manufacturer’s warranty?
You usually get a manufacturer’s warranty on an item for either one or two years – but the specific terms of the warranty are unique to the manufacturer.
If something happens to your camera within the first one or two years after purchase (including any damage you may have caused yourself), you can contact the manufacturer. Rechargeable batteries are usually excluded from this warranty.
That brings up the question you’ve all been waiting for:
So, what does professional & photography insurance cover?
Here’s what’s covered by professional & photography insurance: Your camera, portable video equipment (digicam and camcorder), and photography equipment, such as lenses, shutters, and tripods.
In addition to your personal cameras, coverage often includes cameras and photographic equipment used purely for business purposes.
What type of damage is covered?
Usually, professional insurance covers your camera for the following:
Drop and breakage-related damage
Liquid and water damage
Short circuit, lightning strike, fire & overvoltage
Theft, burglary, and robbery (some providers require that the camera was stolen from a secure area for this coverage to apply).
With any insurance coverage, it’s important to check the terms and conditions of the policy to decide if the coverage makes sense for you.
Find coverage that fits your lifestyle: If you spend a lot of time outdoors, it doesn’t make sense to choose insurance that doesn’t cover breakage.
Know when coverage starts: Check if there is a 4-week waiting period between buying the insurance and activating the coverage.
Good to know: Cameras older than 12 months don’t qualify for coverage from most insurers.
Before we go any deeper, you should ask yourself the following questions:
How much did your camera cost? Would it be worth it for you to invest in insurance on a monthly basis to cover it?
If your camera was damaged or stolen, how financially devastating would replacing it be?
And now for the moment, you’ve all been waiting for:
Is it worth it to get camera insurance?
According to experts, if your camera isn’t worth more than 500 euros, special camera insurance is probably not a savvy financial move for you.
According to Chip, the insurance only becomes worth the cost when the value of the camera is over 1,000, if not 1,500 dollars. Professional photographer David Köster agrees, saying that the insurance only really becomes necessary when the value of the camera plus the camera equipment is in the four-figure range.
It’s not just the price off the shelf that counts, it’s also about how much gets reimbursed if you file a claim. When figuring out your coverage, make sure that you get back the replacement cost. With some insurance providers, after two years they will only reimburse the actual cash value. You can think of that as the Ebay price of your camera.
As you may have guessed, the difference between replacement value and actual cash value can be pretty significant.
And while you’re comparing policies and crunching the numbers, be sure to check if your insurance includes a deductible or not. Most insurance companies start at $500.
If you have a very expensive camera and accessories that you often use outdoors, then camera insurance might be worth it for you. Be aware of the limitations of professional and general liability insurance coverage and don’t be shy to discuss coverage directly with your insurance company if you have any questions. We designed an active live chat just for that.
If you have a mid-priced camera, the coverage provided by the distributor’s and manufacturer’s warranty in addition to your contents insurance policy is probably enough.
Insurious offers specialized camera insurance at this time and has got your camera equipment covered.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there is 1 auto theft every 6.5 minutes and 156 auto thefts every day.
With life returning back to normal soon, it’s easy to get caught up in all the re-opening events and forget to lock your car. Even if you have these forgetful moments, have no fear! If your equipment gets stolen from inside your car, you can just file a claim under your auto insurance, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always true. Your personal auto insurance is really meant to cover your vehicle itself from damage or theft— not what’s inside! That’s exactly why most people with expensive equipment purchase a separate equipment floater policy (also known as an Inland Marine) to cover their high-end gear. Even with some equipment floater policies, they may require showing physical signs of break-in for coverage. So make sure to review your Inland Marine policy to make sure that it doesn’t EXCLUDE Theft From an Unlocked or Unattended Vehicle. Insurious’ policy does not have either of these exclusions so you can rest assured that your gear is covered in your vehicle whether it’s locked or not. Of course, we never recommend leaving your expensive equipment in your car. It’s a very risky and not a safe way to store your valuable gear. If you do, then you can rest assured that you’re covered.
For more information on how you can properly protect your equipment, please feel free to call or text us at 754.300.7890 or visit our website Click Here
Hi, my name is Maurizio and I’m the marketing director of Insurious. I have joined the team recently and I love to tell a story that is symbolic of what Insurious can do for you as it does for me.
When my wife and I purchased our first DSLR shortly before our first child was due to arrive in the winter of 2010, I knew that I would someday want to learn more about photography. With a newborn to feed, change, and love, however, it was some time before that someday came.
Eventually, though, I found the time to teach myself how to use my fancy new camera. At first, I wasn’t very good. Over time and with LOTS of practice, I got better. As the years went by I purchase more and more equipment till I had two duffel bags full of it. My wife and I became passionate about taking staged pictures for every holiday so we had backdrops, stands, lighting and, some tripods added to our equipment. The cost of our equipment rose well above $5000 very quickly.
South Miami Beach – South Point
One day we decided to go to the beach for one of our family photoshoots for an early spring adventure and brought all our equipment with us . It was a very busy day and we were surrounded by people so we decided to go back to the car and just take my camera with me while leaving all the rest of the equipment in the trunk of my car. I soon find out that was a horrible idea. After few hours I arrived back at my car to find the truck pried open and my camera equipment bags missing.
Car Trunk Burglar
While my wife and I were very happy we had kept the memory cards with all our pictures with us, we were devastated by losing all our equipment at once. So I took out my phone and start calling my broker to report the claim under the homeowner’s policy that I had purchased. An adjuster was assigned but after few days our claim was denied because our equipment was not stolen at our property address. I consequentially called my car insurance but they told me that my policy did not cover theft of personal items that are left in my car. That was the moment of realization that I was at a complete loss.
This was a difficult, pricey lesson that was better learned before there was a loss. My experience tells me that many photographers assume they are covered by their homeowners’ policy when in fact they are not. I eventually bought my equipment back and start looking for a policy that would cover my newly purchased equipment. To my surprise, it was not that easy to find one. Most companies offer coverage solutions only on location like my property’s insurance policy or offer insurance only to professionals. I later find out the only type of insurance that would cover almost everything anywhere I would go is an Inland Marine policy.
The name “inland marine” was a bit confusing as I thought it was only for mariners of some kind, but instead, it is just the type of insurance that covers your equipment wherever your pieces of equipment go. It is not tied up with any particular location and can be provided to regular people just like me that not necessarily professional photographers.
Later in life, I had two more wonderful children and to this day I enjoy taking pictures with my whole family during the holidays. Amazingly enough, I have joined the team of a company that provides such insurance services to hobbyist photographers such as myself.
Because of my life experience I recommend everybody to check their policy and make sure the coverage is appropriate.
At Insurious, we have created an online insurance solution just for any photographer. You can customize your coverage to your preferences and ask as many questions to an operator via our live chat.
Matt Sweetwood is the Co-Founder & CEO of Insurious.
Awesome Equipment Insurance in 7-minutes or less!
Starting at $12.50/month, you’ll get protection for your camera, video camera, audio & visual equipment, accessories and much more – no hassles – no wait – all online with their seriously easy insurance.
This is a unique insurance product for camera and video equipment and accessories. It will cover your gear from almost ANY KIND of loss OUTSIDE your home or business – coverage extended warranties and homeowner’s insurance usually doesn’t cover.
Gary Pageau of the Dead Pixels Society talks with Matt Sweetwood, entrepreneur, author, CEO and co-founder of Insurious. After leaving the family camera store, Unique Photo, in 2015, Sweetwood embarked on a career as a consultant, an author (“Leader of the Pack”) and startup CEO. Now he’s back with Insurious, an online insurance company for cameras, audio equipment and more.
Never one to be shy about his opinions, Sweetwood talks about his new company, how photo retailers can compete in the age of COVID, and how the camera hardware vendors are contributing to the decline in the camera market.
Insurious was created with the vision that access to top-rated insurance products and licensed professionals should be easy. The company’s mission is to provide high-quality coverage in 7-minutes or less, 100% online.
TRANSCRIPT Gary Pageau 0:03 Hello again and welcome to the Dead Pixel Society podcast. I’m your host, Gary Pageau. And today we’re joined by entrepreneur, photographer, author and the CEO and co founder of Insurious, Matt Sweetwood. Hey, Matt, how are you today?
Matt Sweetwood 0:18 Gary, it is so good to be here with you. Thanks for having me on.
Gary Pageau 0:24 So most people in the photo industry, no mats we would in the sweet wood family, from my little tiny little hole in the wall little camera store in New Jersey called Unique Photo, can you kind of give us a background on where I went wrong in that description?
Matt Sweetwood 0:45 I think that that’s probably accurate because we’re tiny little people. No, I’m joking. No, we had a really, it really was an amazing career. I had, you know, almost 30 years. You know, from a small company with four people we had working we were a little district little distribution company, delivering film and batteries and flashbulbs in paper bags to small stores in the New York/New Jersey area. And when I left the company in 2015, we were one of the largest, single-location camera stores in the country, had a big distribution company and kind of caused a bit of trouble in the photo industry, between friend and foe with Polaroid and Fujifilm and a bunch of other companies. But I like to think that, you know, even after that many years, they’re people. I don’t know, there’s a combination of people that hate me, love me, fear me, or laugh at me. I think the laugh at me is probably the biggest contingent, but nevertheless, it was quite a journey through the photo industry and photo business. And in some ways I miss it. And that’s maybe why I’ve somehow been drawn back to it.
Yeah, that’s one of those things
Gary Pageau 2:06 Where I think people when it comes to Math Sweetwood they’ve got an opinion, whether they love you or hate you. They’ve got an opinion.
Matt Sweetwood 2:12 Yeah, we had a president like that. I think. So. Yeah.
Gary Pageau 2:18 So you were with the company. You were president of the company. You were there for a lot of growth. Your parents actually started it as I recall. Yep. And so it was a family business, and it’s still in the family. correct?
Matt Sweetwood 2:30 That’s correct. So then, and they’re doing a really good job with it. I taught them well.
Gary Pageau 2:35 There you go. And so then you left in 2015, you kind of spread your wings, you You did a couple things, here and there. Can you kind of talk about the companies you’ve started and work with since then?
Matt Sweetwood 2:47 I was a consulting CEO for a social media network called BeeBee helped them out and get started and get going. They’re still operating primarily out of Spain. I wrote a book in the middle. They’re sort of my life story, crazy journey through the photo business. And through, you know, being a single dad called leader of the pack, very proud of that book. A lot of people talk about how it’s helped their lives. I’ve done consulting, I speak pretty frequently, obviously, now, during COVID time, not so much speaking. But we do some virtual, I’ve done some virtuals in front of some big companies, ever really a couple of really good talks on happiness and personal responsibility. I know some of you would like. And then I decided it was time to leave the New York area area after New Jersey area after spending my own life, moved to Florida. And here I actually am currently involved in two startup projects. One LuxNow, which is a luxury rental platform for autos, homes, and yachts a little bit like Airbnb, the luxury side, which were sort of dragging along during this COVID time, obviously, travel tourism industry is low. And the startup which I really want to talk about, which we just launched two weeks ago, called Insurious, which is very relevant to your audience. And the concept behind and Insurious is a quick access to essentially all peril insurance, for your camera, video accessories, all sorts of stuff, computer equipment. You know, when I when I ran that camera store, I used to laugh because laughs sort of sadly, people would come in the store literally every day and say my equipment was stolen. And they would find out that their homeowners or business insurance doesn’t cover it, the auto insurance doesn’t cover this doesn’t cover it. And so we’ve come up with a product that’s very unique for just a few dollars a month and in about five minutes all online. You can get insurance to cover all of your equipment. I know I sound like I just gave a sales pitch but I’m really excited about the product because it fills in a missing place. You know, even if you have some equipment insurance, it doesn’t cover you against all peril and are even though you know no such things all parallel. But in our case, we’re covering things like earthquakes and floods and water damage and loss. And if you drop it, you break it, it’s stolen, all sorts of things like that at a very low cost. So we believe this is a product that will be really exciting. And you can go get it right now.
Gary Pageau 5:16 So the question is, is how is this different from other offerings in the space because I know there are other players in the space, I think PPA has a, a relationship with a insurance company to provide this sort of coverage. So what what’s the difference?
Matt Sweetwood 5:34 Okay, so a couple of difference. One, like I said, it’s the range of coverage, this is going to cover you against things that the normal policies don’t, for example, earthquake, I know that’s unlikely, relatively unlikely, but flood damage, water damage, you drop it in water, it’s stolen, it’s lost, it’s broken, really, under almost any kind of condition like that. In addition, if you look at the cost of this insurance, you’re gonna see it’s extremely low.
Gary Pageau 6:00 Yeah, you can notice that the premiums are what, like, $12 a month, right?
Matt Sweetwood 6:04 You have policies that’ll cost you $150 a year, you can insure, you know, $5-$6,000 worth of equipment, it’s a really low rate, you’ll see Uber fast claims. And the best part is that you sign up, you’ll have the policy, typically, within a few hours, maybe at most 24 to 48 hours, you’ll actually have the policy and be enjoined. We also cover rental equipment. So when you go rental equipment, you can actually have that covered. So for
Gary Pageau 6:29 Example, if you are a journalist, and a lot of the journalists now own their own equipment, because the papers and whatnot are providing,
Matt Sweetwood 6:38 Yeah, for awhile now.
Gary Pageau 6:39 Of course. Yeah, exactly. And so let’s say you were covering a natural disaster, you know, a flood or something. So this would account for that for an independent journalist.
Matt Sweetwood 6:49 Say you’re covering a, a mostly peaceful demonstration, and someone bumps into you, and knocks your camera down or steals the front, it’s covered, you’re covered. So and you know, a really quick access, you know, and you think of it’s not only for professionals, you think there’s a lot of consumers out there that you know, have lots of camera equipment, they travel, you go abroad, right, cameras are stolen, damaged, whatever lost when they’re abroad. So it covers that too. We’re also excited, we’ll roll out, I’m actually looking for, for those of you listening out there, I’m looking for a couple of dealers to work with me to build out the dealer program, sort of in a beta test. So we have an affiliate program built in and we’d love to, you know, have the dealers go out there and sell the product, earn revenue for themselves and for their salespeople, and actually be able to sell that kind of insurance at the point of sale. And I think the actual point here is that this is a win win for everybody. Because like I said, when I was running Unique Photo, we’d have people come in who’ve lost their gear, either lost it stolen, whatever, a whole assortment of things, how many wedding photographers put their their lens down at a wedding, and it disappears, or something like that, and they don’t have the funds to buy it again. So the photographer is out, the store is out, because it’s not, it’s not going to make the resale, you know, and so on. So I believe that there’s a win win in the industry. And it really fills into a segment, you know, available for everybody. Right? It’s available not just for Association members, anybody can take advantage of this. And I think the cost point is at a is at a place where it’s extremely attractive, and the access to it. And I don’t want to underestimate this, you know, people have you buying insurance sometimes is a little bit complicated. Sure, I’m telling you, you can get through our application, we say seven minutes or less, you can really get through that application in five minutes, enter your credit card, and you’re covered. It’s as simple it’s really as simple as that. It’s a FinTech product, which I love being able to say FinTech on podcasts.
Gary Pageau 8:49 It’s very trendy. very trendy, I
Matt Sweetwood 8:51 feel really good.
Gary Pageau 8:53 So what what is it? Is it actual replacement value? Or is it or is it the value of the
Matt Sweetwood 9:01 That’s right, you’re gonna list the replacement value of the product, and that’s what it’s going to cover determines that base, right? Yeah. And it’s small and it’s a small, you know, and you can choose deductibles, we have low deductibles, obviously, the more deductible less deductible effects a little bit the premium on the policy, but you’ll see that you’ll see the the policies that come in when you’re insuring, you know, between five and $10,000 of equipment, even up to $20,000 really low, you know, and I believe we can insure up to you know, maybe 50 or $100,000 worth of equipments, you know, we have the we have range at the high end for even you know, working professionals and businesses.
Gary Pageau 9:37 Even those Leica people and
Matt Sweetwood 9:40 I don’t know, I think we might have a Leica exclusion.
Gary Pageau 9:46 So, talk a little bit about the the can the the what you see as the what’s happening with dealers these days and opportunity because I think as we’ve all seen, the camera market is stressed. Now, in terms of, you know, people are buying as many cameras, surely not buying the amount of equipment and accessories. So obviously dealers need to find other areas of revenue.
Matt Sweetwood 10:11 I mean, that was the success formula that I used a Unique Photo where we went from having no camera store, and in a few years have one of the biggest was continually look for imaginative ways to draw people to your establishment, either that’s online, or it’s in the store. And that’s by creating experience, providing products service, all sorts of things. I mean, I’m kind of saying things. Like, if I was a camera store owner, I was listening to me right now and be like, yeah, yeah, Matt, we know all of this. But knowing all of it, and then really sort of thinking about it. And, you know, actually executing and going out there, I will tell you, when I left Unique, I had many projects on my desk. In other words, some of them were pie in the sky, like, hey, I’d like to do this. So I was always in that mode of trying to find the next big thing, what are we going to offer? What are we going to do next? How are we going to change the game Next, you know, when I created the education program, essentially the first ones to really do that on the scale that we did, you know, and then I started to look at how to work the education program, and then build a rental department and built a used department and then build all of these things, and then look within those departments how to improve upon them, right. So if you have an add on like this, that can add revenue onto a sale very easily, and repeat revenue, right. So this is a repeat revenue, it usually is an ideal thing. Now, there’s not a lot of big dollars in it, obviously, because you know, if you’re selling $150, you know, policies, there’s not a lot of room for that. But it’s a thing that you can repeatedly sell, and provide a service to your customer and tie the customer to the store, because he knows he got the insurance from you. So he’s more likely if he has a claim to come back with his money and buy from you. And we all know that story. So you’re always looking for something like this, add on simple way to you know, create something, you know, create a story, create anything. So we believe that this is going to dovetail really well into that retail channel.
Gary Pageau 12:08 I think it’s, it’s interesting, you mentioned that about, you know, creating experience, I remember when Unique University was launched, and some of the things you were doing there was were pretty impressive, and I had the chance to see the store, gosh, must have been 10 – 12 years ago, I was out in New Jersey and saw the store and saw how you had the various boutiques set up for the different brands, and you had to pick a coffee shop in there. And really COVID is kind of thrown a curveball at any, any retailer who is offering experiences now.
Matt Sweetwood 12:38 I think that we just need to hold on a little bit longer. The pent up demand for human beings to socialize and get back out there is enormous. And I do believe that without being political that now the election is over, I believe that you’re going to see opening up of states. And I just think that people are so desperate to get out there. I know here, you know, I’m now in Florida. And we’ve been open the whole time all the stores and everything have been open. What I’ve noticed is that all essentially, and this is what leadership here has claimed that I’ve actually watched it happen is that the stores operate COVID friendly, they keep distance they clean, they wear masks, they do all the things you’re supposed to. And so I think that I think that’s a pivot point for retailers. So if some advice to a retailer right now is you get right out in front of that COVID thing if you haven’t already and just say hey, look, we’re making an environment here where you can come in, if you have classes, you can try to have them outdoors. You can, you can socially did I mean, you know, there’s all sorts of things, but get in front of it. And that’s how I always viewed marketing. For me when I was at unique is whatever the situation was, I wanted to be out in front of it. So you should have a COVID camera something right, I can already think of how to do it. Come in and you clean? How about having a coke COVID cleansing of your camera to make sure that your cameras I mean, it’s silly idea. But I’m just saying I would be crazy ideas like this would roll around in my head all the time how to do it how to do it right? I would turn around and look at some of the big guys. And I’d be like, Okay, how do I get my advantage on them? What do I have to do? How do I get people in the store? You know, whatever it is I got to do, I do.
Gary Pageau 14:17 You know, that’s one of the things that I’ve mentioned a couple times with guests on the show is there are folks who are looking at COVID as a temporary experience where eventually it will go away. But I think in a lot of ways COVID lifestyle is going to be with us for a long time. This hand sanitation even mask wearing i think is going to continue at least when people fly certain areas where you know contactless payments or kiosks or things like that will still be prevailing. So I think it’s it is one of those things where a retail or service provider has to get ahead on because it’s not going away.
Matt Sweetwood 15:00 I could not agree more. You know, there’s a psychological component to this. You know, even let’s say we had a situation where everybody was vaccinated. Okay, which won’t happen. But let’s say you had a situation with that. How many people really would be 100 convinced in their hearts that even though they’re vaccinated, they couldn’t get COVID? Well, there’s a large percentage of people that are going to be afraid, or what about COVID? 21? Yeah, right, because that’s coming, right, or 22, or whatever it is. So I agree with you this new clean way of living, right, I’m already starting to formulate the marketing plan for the store, but I don’t need to do it. I’m not running a camera store anymore, or retail or any kind of thing like that. But to me, that would be you know, how I would focus my business. And then I would start to look at how I can work around that.
Gary Pageau 15:54 Yeah. And that’s actually like, you know,
Matt Sweetwood 15:56 I already have an idea for a course, you know, you discuss with length, you get photographers in your building, and you talk about how to stay safe at gatherings for a photographer, there’s a course for you, right there. Even
Gary Pageau 16:08 You know, if you’re a portrait photographer, how do you teach a portrait portrait photographer how to conduct a sanitary session or whatnot. Right?
Matt Sweetwood 16:16 However, right? There’s all right. But in terms of retail environment, you get in front of this, and you’d be the most COVID, health conscious, friendly retail store there is. That’s it, you just take it to the next level. And you people respect you for doing that. And it’s an attraction. So I can think of all sorts of things. But yes, you’re right. It’s going to be here, retailer needs to get around it. If you don’t have contactless payments. Those should be those should be in there right now. You know, and contactless payments are right away. I’m like, that’s awesome. Because that means that’s another excuse for me to get their information. You know, where to get this, like all sorts of goodies that come come with that. So I would have contactless payments, I would advertise that. I would talk about how often we clean the demo equipment, the used equipment, the rental equipment, I would do all of that stuff.
Gary Pageau 17:05 Yeah. Because I mean, there’s really no downside to doing it. Who doesn’t want to have a sanitary experience? Right. And people may not have been thinking about it. But even even if you’re not super concerned about COVID, there’s still no downside to being right.
Matt Sweetwood 17:21 Well, here’s an idea for you. Here’s an idea that I really like just came to me right now. So I would advertise this is a real one, I would actually do this right first marketing idea, I would advertise to the customer, that every piece of equipment that I sell, will be sanitized clean in front of their eyes. Okay, so I would take it out, not if it’s new in the box. But if they’re buying something that’s out, like, let’s say they’re buying a tripod off the floor, even a bag, buying a used camera or something like that, I would put it I would have the counterclaim, I would have them stand there, I would have the counterclaim I would train my people how to do it, and I would clean the equipment, I would advertise that to them. Hmm. Now somebody may think that’s silly, but I actually think that that would be a selling point, I think people would really appreciate that.
Gary Pageau 18:07 Yeah, well, especially considering, you know, honestly, when we talk about, you know, who’s buying cameras these days, it is older people, for the most part, and they’re most concerned about COVID.
Matt Sweetwood 18:16 There’s a subliminal message in there, right? Because it’s an easy way, when you say that we we sanitize all of our used equipment, all of our pre owned whatever you want to call it gently worn equipment in front of you. You’re not just advertising COVID, you’re talking about your use program. But you’re doing it without indirectly saying come in and buy a used camera, which is, you know, very 1981. So but you’re talking about something that’s tangential to the thing and sort of creating more cachet around what you’re doing. So I really like that kind of strategy. And there’s one that I suggest that every retailer go for right now. Just thought of it. I’m sure there’s a bunch of people out there that,
Gary Pageau 19:02 What is the commission on that?
Matt Sweetwood 19:03 Yeah, that’s right. It’s the usual commission that gets paid in this is no in all honesty, by the way, I will say I won’t mention who. But I’ve had a few retailers actually reached out to me and I consulted them a little bit successfully, by the way. So if you’re out there in any way in the photo business, I’m glad to help if I can.
Gary Pageau 19:22 So you’ve always been a photo business guy. You’ve grown up in the business and everything. So did it was the idea was behind Insurious. We want to create a FinTech app slash business for for cameras, or you just wanted to create an insurance business and you started with cameras.
Matt Sweetwood 19:45 That’s the latter more likely but they really both were together. What happened was this business was formed by three partners in the business two people are from the insurance industry, and they actually reached out to me looking for an operatior, a marketer, and someone that knows how to do this stuff to run the company. And, and we took a look. And we said, okay, one of like, we can cover other things, too. We can cover high-end bicycles. We can cover musical equipment, audio equipment, the policy will that you sign up for it can cover a lot of different things. But since we’re on a photo industry, you know, discussion right now. And so we focus, we basically launched the product two weeks ago, it works, we’ve sold policies already. And you can go on there now and buy cameras, you know, you have your camera equipment. And that’s an industry I know. So this is our first vertical market is to walk into this business. So that’s kind of it was kind of a combination of things. And I will tell you that this is always when the people came to me with the idea. I’m like, there’s been a need for this literally for 30 years through this kind of thing. And like you said, there’s other products that are similar. They sell in pockets, they sell only through the association, they they’re not really aimed at consumers, there’s extended warranties, but there’s nothing really like this product that has been, like I said, needed for a long time. So for me coming into the cat, we have a FinTech product, the real answer is we have a FinTech product that’s really good for a lot of different kinds of gear. But our first attack is at the camera business where I believe it’s very, very needed product.
Gary Pageau 21:16 So when you communicate this to the consumer, how do you explain this as different than an extended warranty? And do people still need extended warranties,
Matt Sweetwood 21:28 I still think that people do in certain cases need extended warranty, because an extended warranty covers against manufacturer or a defect, or something breaking within the camera. This is an insurance policy, this is for loss, damage, theft, you know, that kind of natural disaster that happens to it, which is equally likely probably to an actual, you know, manufacturer defect, so, and the manual, and there are some like all encompassing extended warranties that say if you lose it, but you have to read the fine print on those, they don’t really cover you under most circumstances.
Gary Pageau 22:03 Yeah, that was my question. Because, you know, I’m thinking of it as you know, someone who’s in the market for a camera, and I’m talking to the dealer, and the dealer says, you know, hey, I’m, I’m pitching you the extended warranty. And oh, by the way, you also need this other thing. And really, the dealer is going to be nuanced enough to understand what the differences.
Matt Sweetwood 22:25 That’s right. And the difference is actually important. Whether this is more important or not, I don’t know the marketplace is going to determine that as we go forward. Because I think when you sell an extended warranty, there’s something a little bit funny about extending an extended warranty. It’s sort of this will always I always had a little bit of fun with this, as you’re like, I always was afraid the customer asked, Well, why do I need this? Do you think this is going to break in a year? Right?
Gary Pageau 22:51 It always happened with like, you know, washing machines, it’s like the day after the extended warranty is when your washing machine does.
Matt Sweetwood 22:57 That’s right. So do you think you do you think you need this, it was always sort of this pejorative thing. But people have always had stuff they’ve lost. It’s sort of a more general kind of thing where it’s either been lost or stolen. And particularly when you’re in the business. I can’t tell I’m if you’re any photographer out there listening will take I don’t I don’t even think I know many photographers who haven’t had stuff stolen here.
Gary Pageau 23:20 I mean, they’re, you know, they may, they’re at a function or wedding or an event, they set their bag down for 30 seconds and it’s gone.
Matt Sweetwood 23:29 It happens all the time cars broken into, if you remember, actually there was a problem. Remember those Nikon mugs? They would sell these coffee mugs that look like lenses?
Gary Pageau 23:39 Yeah, I’ve got a couple of them.
Matt Sweetwood 23:41 They actually I think had to stop selling them or there was something done with them. I can’t remember now it was a while ago, because people were leaving them in the cupholders of their car. And people were breaking in the cars thinking they were real lenses.
Gary Pageau 23:53 Now, are you going to ensure those those mugs? Can you?
Matt Sweetwood 23:57 I think you probably could include that in the thing? Yes. I mean, you’d have to have a lot of mugs to you know, meet like a $50 deductible, but okay, you know, nevertheless.
Gary Pageau 24:08 So, so, so you’ve been doing your own thing for about five years or so. So what is what’s that we could I can’t talk to you and not talk a little bit about cameras. What have you seen that’s changed in the industry in the last five years in terms of cameras, technology, how people are using them in the market?
Matt Sweetwood 24:34 I think that, you know, obviously there has been a continued downward pressure on sales. You know, in the camera business, the smartphones, guilty. I mean, I’m guilty. You know, I have a whole bevy of Lumix cameras. You know, I shot as a luminary for a while. But you know, the smartphones are really powerful, you know, COVID affecting just people traveling and just going out in the world, I think, you know, I’ve been in a camera business a long time. And it just seems like it’s a bad luck business. You know, I don’t know if that’s God’s will or whatever it is, but just it just seemed like throughout the history, events beyond any prediction or control just seem to come and just hurt, hurt hurt. And I will tell you also, I, you know, I have to lay some of the blame for the what happened in the industry, on the manufacturers and the big vendors, you know, from the days of Kodak and Polaroid and the way they would punish the dealer channel back in the day, and then the lack of support for the dealer channel as a general principle, no, not controlling it in a way that’s beneficial. Also, for the dealers, even though a lot of the executives in those companies probably would deny it. No, we care about the dealers. But you know, we all know what the real story is. So I think over the last couple of years, I think just the pain quotient has increased the environment from COVID, to smartphone development to the movement to online sales, where a local store is at a disadvantage to you know, the power of Amazon. And it’s just been a really, really rough ride. On the on the good side, I think that the quality of product in the photo industry has been never been higher. You know, we briefly touched on this before we got on but, you know, I still had people come to me, what should I buy? What should I buy? And, you know, there’s no such thing as a bad camera? Is there a bad camera? Is there a bad tripod? Is there a bad I mean, they’re all they’re all great, everybody’s making great product. And so the ability to different of course, that also is a negative, because the ability to differentiate comes down to a little bit of a marketing game. But on the good side, I mean, I know today, in the last five years, the quality of product that’s being put out there is really spectacular cameras from even, you know, inexpensive cameras to high-end cameras, they do things that are just truly amazing. And a real credit to the R-and-D and the technology that exists. I wish as a matter of fact, the average consumer had a better understanding of how truly incredible what those electronics do. They just see them as you know, they snap a picture, they think it’s basically, you know, just appears they understand how complex the software and the hardware and the imaging sensors, and all of that stuff that happens, you know, real really is it’s really amazing. So,
Gary Pageau 27:33 Yeah, you know, the things I think that the industry has struggled with the last few years is, why does someone need a camera. And I know there are those who advocate almost that it should be like a, a watch, in the sense that it’s a luxury item. It’s a status symbol, you should if you have a camera around your neck, you’re you’re really differentiating yourself from the plebes and the other folks. And I just don’t know if I’m comfortable with that, because I think everyone should have every house should have a camera or real quote unquote, real camera. Obviously smartphones are excellent. Not to diminish.
Matt Sweetwood 28:16 I agree with you. But I here’s here’s the thing that I’ll say is and what, here’s how I would always answer that question, because I’ve actually been on national TV asked that question many, many times. And my answer is very simple. If you’re happy with 70% of your pictures coming out, and and not being able to capture 30% of your memories, a smartphone probably is sufficient for you. But you own a camera because one third of the pictures that you take are not capable, you can’t capture them, you don’t have the lens you don’t have is just physics will prevent you from using a smartphone to capture. So if you’re doing something that’s worthwhile, like taking pictures of your family or your children, or you’re on a memorable vacation, or you have a memorable event, and you use a smartphone, there’s a one in three chance that you won’t get the picture, you increase that chance dramatically by having a camera. With that being said, I think one of the problems in the photo industry is the lack while I just said that the cameras are amazing, and so on. I think there has been a little bit of lack. And this addresses your what you just mentioned, lack of forward progress in industrial design. DSLR today looks very, very much like a DSLR for many, many years ago. So the concept of a box with a lens sticking out is not very 2020 you know, and if you think of a younger person using this, I think that that is part so I and I know there’s been some experimentation with this. I know mirrorless tried to change this a little bit. But still those cameras from if you just look at them, you’re not a photo guy. Just look at the actual design of a camera. It doesn’t look 2020 So I think if I would make any point on 2021 forget 2021 it hasn’t made it to 2020 so When I look at, when I look at the industrial design, I think that that might help the industry. I don’t know if it’s too late now, but to me, I would always jump up and down and say stop making, you know, Canon Mark whatever, Canon Rebel, whatever looks like Canon Rebel
Gary Pageau 30:18 Honestly a lot of them look, you know, 15-20 feet, you can’t tell a Nikon apart from a Canon?
Matt Sweetwood 30:25 No, you can’t tell anything from anything. And that’s the point it doesn’t look, it doesn’t look, you know. And when you’re, you’re talking, you know, I’m sitting here holding an LG smartphone, right, and it comes here with this, I have this thing in my thing where it has a split screen, you know, I’m holding this up so you can see it, but you can’t see it, you can attach it as a split screen and curved sides, they get lighter, and they get thinner. And eventually, I feel like they’re advancing, even though their form factor is very simple. They’re advancing the form factor. They have the new foldable ones. And I just don’t feel that there’s been enough advancement to capture the aesthetic imaginations. So I think that industrial design design is an extremely important part that has been neglected in the pursuit of pixels and functionality. And then I believe that that was a mistake to not try to create some revolutionary design in the camera. You know, I don’t know what that is. I’m not a designer. But to me, that was, I think, part and parcel of the problem. Why? Why you say carrying a camera around your neck distinguishes you? I’m not sure for particularly younger people that distinguishes you in a way that makes them look cool or feel special. I think it might make I mean,
Gary Pageau 31:39 It’s interesting. You said because I think, for example, Leica done that, to some extent, certainly I think Fuji has done it to some extent with there camera, but it’s really like a very niche market, you know, people who can afford to spend $3,000 or more on a body? Well, there’s not that many people. Right?
Matt Sweetwood 32:02 That’s right. Imagine you could design a camera that was you know, round, or it was I don’t know what to get. I’m not that I don’t want to conjecture any design. But you know, something? I don’t know, just something that was cooler.
Gary Pageau 32:16 Welll, it’s funny, you should say it because I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. We were talking to kind of the early days of digital cameras. And we were talking about how the camera makers actually took a lot more risks back in back in the day when there were and you had people trying swivel lenses. And you had people doing things you know, Casio was doing something crazy almost every year. Nikon with the early Coolpix again with the swivel lenses and different Yeah, yeah. And there’s a lot more risk taking back then. And you’re just not seeing it now. I mean, I think they’re I think they’re trying to do it with software. I think there’s things they’re trying to do. From image processing standpoint,
Matt Sweetwood 32:59 Nobody’s arguing this the stuff the technology in the cameras is unbelievable. It’s miraculous. You can take a picture and almost friggin total darkness and end up with a great image. I mean, how the hell do they do that? It sees better than the human eye.
Gary Pageau 33:13 Right. So you’re optimistic about about the camera business? Maybe not being a a solely camera focused dealer.
Matt Sweetwood 33:26 Yeah. That’s right. I just think that in order to run any bit, this is something I actually you know, I told you, I’m a speaker in the beginning. And when I give a talk, one of the things I always talk about is business reinvention. And I think the longevity and the success we had a unique was a result of this continuous drive for re imagination of your business. And reimagine ation of that business is an ongoing process. You don’t wait until you’re in decline. You have to keep doing this. So if you’re a camera store, you have to understand your local market. You have to understand all of those aspects and look for ways to continually reinvent that business. Stay energetic, and just keep pushing forward. Because if you don’t you’re just not going in the
Gary Pageau 34:06 Right place. So perhaps you’re like a Matt Sweetwood and you start a FinTech business
Matt Sweetwood 34:10 Don’t be that that’s a mistake. Trust me you don’t want to be read my “Leader of the Pack” book, you definitely don’t want to be like that. So we would the grass so the grass is always greener. And you know why the grass is always greener right on the other side. You know why that is? Right? Because of all of the bull crap that they put on the lawn over there. So yes, you have it the one thing I did have to support those kids is I always had drive to make it I worked worked work tirelessly like a bowl.
Gary Pageau 34:37 Yeah. So where can people go to get more information on insurance?
Matt Sweetwood 34:46 Okay, well go to Insurious.us just like it sounds i en su r io us.us. Not the.com.us. Okay, and you can you can actually get a quote in five minutes you have to buy you can just get a quote Check it out, we got a really kind of funky video up there, you can watch and I’m telling you it’s a really amazing product. We’re really excited about it. And you can always get me I am at em sweet wood everywhere. I love hearing from people, particularly people from the photo business and I’ll say hi to everybody out there who I haven’t seen in a while, which I’m looking forward to seeing again hopefully we’ll start some trade shows again and I’ll show up there and cause some trouble while body paint myself and we’ll be ready to go.
Gary Pageau 35:24 Yeah I think I’ve got a picture of you as from PhotoPlus from I don’t know how many years ago when you were when they did a scholar a skeleton? Yeah,
Matt Sweetwood 35:32 I don’t want to know what you’re doing with that picture. But
Gary Pageau 35:34 Well, I think that’s gonna be the picture on the promo for this. Well, thank you, Matt, for your time and great reconnecting with you and glad to see you’re back in the industry. And I hope people can take advantage of what you’re offering, and even a dealer can find a way to make some bucks with it.
Matt Sweetwood 35:52 That’s right. Like I said, I hope some dealers reach out to me, I’d love to work with them really specially and closely on this. Thanks for having me on. It’s been a pleasure. It’s so good to reconnect with old friends.
Matt Sweetwood is the CEO and Co-Founder of Insurious – the insurance platform that protects your most valued gear and equipment. He is an internationally known Professional Speaker, Author, and Consultant, and has over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience. However, his greatest achievement is having raised five successful children to adulthood as a single dad. He is a frequent national TV and publication contributor, and has a #1 Best-Selling Book: “Leader Of The Pack: How A Single Dad Of Five Led His Kids, His Business, and Himself, From Disaster To Success.”