Through the Lens
Iris Works provides intuitive business program for photographers
Writer & Photographer / Megan Jefferson
When you walk into Developer Town (DT), the large building located at 53rd and Winthrop Ave., you see little houses on wheels that serve as offices for the employees. These houses are often reconfigured into village areas within the large warehouse-like space. There are people working in their “office house”, others are meeting and collaborating in the common space in front of large whiteboards and some are taking a break, laughing and playing ping pong.
The ceilings are about 60 feet high, so there’s plenty of room for a couple of lofts in the corners. In one of these lofts, four teams, all part of the DT Starts program, share the space and co-office.
DT Starts partners with early stage and startup ventures doing back end technology, design and marketing analytics (and more) in exchange for equity. Iris Works, a studio management app built specifically to help small business photographers, is one of the businesses working with DT Starts.
Meredith Gradle is Founder and CEO of Iris Works. Meredith grew up in Indianapolis, attended Purdue University and then worked for IU Health in their Human Resources Department while running her own photography business.
“A few years after running my photography business full time, I realized that I needed to improve certain processes in my business,” Gradle says. “I spent a lot of time at IU Health looking at processes and how to make things more efficient, but I wasn’t doing the same for my own business. I realized I needed a system and some automation. Long story short, things quickly snowballed into starting a software company.”
Meredith set out to develop Iris Works and started exploring the market. Quickly realizing that existing programs in the industry were incredibly clunky and complicated, she figured out how to make Iris Works simple, intuitive and beautiful. It is a tool that can help any business owner who communicates with their clients but specifically targets photographers.
“Iris Works has the ability to help users instantly appear professional, send out branded emails, invoices, questionnaires and contracts. Every photographer can seamlessly run a business with Iris,” Gradle says.
“What started as a small business idea, has turned into a much bigger plan,” Gradle says. “We are now attending the industry’s large trade shows, speaking at conferences and partnering with industry leaders and businesses. The first few months of 2017 have been record breaking for us. We’re really excited about turning this corner. With the vast knowledge provided from Michael Cloran at DT, who is an incredibly bright and experienced entrepreneur himself, we have grown tremendously since joining forces.”
The most surprising thing she’s learned through the journey of starting a successful software company is about the power of community.
“The startup world is one with natural risk takers and competitive individuals, yet everyone is willing to support one another,” she says. “Especially in the Indy area, there are so many budding entrepreneurs and startups that are willing to share experiences and help out when they can.”
Meredith is passionate about her goal that Iris will be seen as the top studio management system for photographers. She and her talented team are working on upgrades to the system. She is confident that Iris will change how people currently look at studio management systems. Having a vision and implementing it, she explains, “is a bit of a risk, but the outcome will result in a new system that’s intelligent yet simple and will truly grow a photographer’s business.”
Visit iris-works.com to learn more about Iris Works.