Christopher Brereton – Co-Founder of PictureHealing

[quote style=”boxed”]We are big Google Docs users and maintain a document we call “Idears.” It’s the place where we just vomit new thoughts on paper to talk through when we have free time.[/quote]

Christopher Brereton is one of the founders and lead guru of PictureHealing is a company that develops community, awareness and support through photo sharing on iPhones. With more than 5  years of experience in marketing and business development, Christopher has crafted his skills as a thought leader. His progressive approach to company structure and team communication has helped him to lead efforts for large non-profits like Casa Pacifica and wealth management companies like Mass Mutual.

Realizing at a young age that there was more to life than making money, Christopher decided to build a company that focused it’s team and talents on giving back to those who need help. He grew up at the Boys and Girls Club, where he was awarded “Youth of the Year” and spent summers at YMCA and other camps until he was old enough to take his first paid job as a junior leader at the Boys and Girls Club.

What are you working on right now?

We’re working on so many things right now! Tech wise, we’re developing phase 2 of the PictureHealing app and  improving our website components and tools for our partner charities. Now that we’ve released the core functionality, we’re using the agile methodology so that we can release updates much faster in sprints.

We’re super excited about the next release. Users will find a plethora of new social features including the ability to follow each other, charities and brands. It will have all the commenting and liking functionality you see in many other applications, as well as the ability to order prints of the pictures you see being shared. We’re expecting the next update to drop in a few weeks.

In the public space, we’re in the middle of organizing some awesome cause marketing efforts with fun brands and properties like the Vans Warped Tour to support organizations like Music Saves Lives and Keep A Breast.

Where did the idea for PictureHealing come from?

I tend to look at business in a very artistic manner. As an artist, one has many mediums to blend together in order to develop something that is beautiful, something that people can interact with and understand. That’s our approach at PictureHealing. I challenged myself and my co-founders to look at the marketplace, find holes and establish creative ways to fill those holes.

We started with non-profits. Once we immersed ourselves in their environment and got a grasp on their pain points and fatigue, we were able to objectively look at the ways we could truly be helpful. Money is great, but we wanted to develop a service that would create the income they need to operate while addressing their other concerns and issues.  We started and continue to build our company by empowering charities through technology and community building efforts.

What does your typical day look like?

I recently started changing the way I focus my time and it’s truly working wonders for my schedule and workload. I decided to theme my days around our 4 gurus and 4 core foci. Monday is “Business Development Day,” Tuesday is “Community Day” Wednesday is “Whatever Wednesday,” Thursday is “Tech Thursday” and Friday is “Non-Profit Friday.” I borrowed the idea from Jack Dorsey after I read an interview in Fast Company about how he starts his days at Twitter on days that start with T and starts the rest of his week at Square. I thought it was clever, it helped me hone in on our core foci and has made me a lot more proactive.

Weekdays are spent with the team in what we’ve dubbed “The ApartOffice” or as our NPO Guru Sophia calls it, “The Offartment.” Sometimes when I need a change of scenery or some quite time, I walk a mile down the road to a local coffee shop called Crave and post up there.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas are everything.  We’re a super collaborative crew, so everyone gets to chime in, leading to far better ideas. We are big Google Docs users and maintain a document we call “Idears.” It’s the place where we just vomit new thoughts on paper to talk through when we have free time.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

It’s funny because photo sharing has been dubbed trendy these days, especially since Facebook bought Instagram. We jumped in to this space organically. PictureHealing actually launched as a backup site for photos, similar to PhotoBucket. We started developing a photo sharing app specifically for Music Saves Lives to take on Warped Tour. We realized mid-way through that the entire business model needed to pivot in this direction. Since then, Kevin’s team at Instagram discovered the same hole and absolutely kicked ass filling it; which has actually been good for us. In the last 17 months, photo sharing discussion have gone from, “why would I do that?” to “OH, that’s awesome!” We have Kevin’s crew to thank for that.

So when it comes to trends, it may look like we jumped on one, but we’re really not focused on that at all. We’re more focused on how to be a resource to non-profits at no cost. That’s all we’re paying attention to.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I actually took a job installing auto glass when I was 16 years old. They gave me my own little truck to poke around town in and replace people’s windshields. The owner, although an amazingly nice guy, had no concept of how to run a company or manage a team. He was successful despite himself. Even though I only spent about 2 months at that gig, I learned a lot about business by observing his mistakes.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I will start by saying that I’m glad we started the way we did because it provided us with the hands-on experience to figure out our space and services. However, my future startups will work on a small scale first and have the ability to scale quickly and efficiently. PictureHealing’s model depended on a lot of traffic at first. We’ve been able to identify other means, but it took us a while to get here.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Focus on building great teams. Human capital is more valuable than any dollar amount. Although I am sure there’s a bean counter somewhere that has a formula for me to assign a monetary value to my amazing team…

What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?

My biggest problem is prioritizing. As an entrepreneur, your head is constantly filled with ideas. Becoming disciplined enough to identify the good ones is the first step. But, when you have a million good ones, identifying the first one and then following through is key to actually producing something of value. It’s one thing to be a dreamer/thinker, it’s another thing do be a doer/achiever.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’ll give you all my ideas. If you can do something better than I can, please do!  One piece of advice I’d offer is to make sure your product or service truly answers a problem and that it can work for 10 million people as well as it can work for 10 people.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

There are so many things I want to change. I find myself feeling more and more passionate about fixing the school system. Our educational options in the U.S. suck. I don’t have the answer yet, but I have been keeping an eye on educations’ best thought leaders. Change is coming.

Tell us a secret.

I’m in love with the purple straw…follow me? No?

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

I just found Trello.  It is a free project management tool made by the guys at FogBugs. We’re using it for all sorts of stuff and I’m in love with it at the moment.

I also am a huge proponent of newsletters. I follow many, but big ones like Mashable and TechCrunch are daily must-reads.

Lastly, I’m a huge nerd for Netflix. One of the ways I mellow out is by watching shows like How I Met Your Mother marathon style.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

It’s hard to narrow down. I’m a major bookworm. I’d have to recommend checking out Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

@mDehart1: He’s our community guru.

richardbranson: Because he’s the bee’s knees.

@SocEntLA: Because there is an amazing movement happening in Silicon Beach.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

About an hour ago because this kid is so freaking inspirational!

Who is your hero?

My pops, he’s the grand optimist.

What’s your latest motto?

Exposure breeds opportunity. Unless you get out of your comfort zone, you won’t be able to see where your gifts fit or how your passions can change the world.

Do you have a better half, a crush or someone you’re really into right now?

I just met this super amazing girl named Sylvia. Shhh…don’t tell anyone.


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