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Ryan Tolbert_Lively Booth

Randi Craigen - Monday, January 11, 2016



If a picture is worth a thousand words, than entrepreneur Ryan Tolbert has a lot to say. Ryan is the founder of Lively Booth (launched 2015)—a rentable photo booth based on the classic model of providing event guests with enthusiastic photos, but with a modern twist. While photo booths are nothing new, having been around since the 1920’s, Ryan’s innovative ideas for Lively Booth makes it relevant for today.

Unlike the typical photo booth that has room for just an individual or perhaps a few guests at a time, Lively Booth functions as an open standing kiosk that can be placed in front of any backdrop to fit many guests comfortably and move lines through quickly. Instead of printing instant images on site, Lively Booth sends the images immediately to a website, where guests can download them to a computer or mobile device to be shared via social media, or printed as they like. Lively Booth adds value to event hosts by offering an effortless way to document or commemorate an event, and excites guests by providing them full access to high quality images with their friends or other guests. With digital files, the use of social media and hashtags, Lively Booth can be also used in marketing contexts. It’s the perfect solution for celebrations where a lively photo of guests both communicates brand personality and brings awareness to the event at hand.

During college, Ryan used to shoot photo booths for events manually with a camera and lights. People really enjoyed the photos, so overtime Ryan researched ways he could scale and streamline his service, and discovered companies on the West Coast that were doing something similar with an open-style kiosk and a printer. As Ryan saw guests from events posting his photos on social media to share with friends and family, he began researching ways to make his photo booth idea digital. Sometime after he began prototyping and building Version 1 of Lively Booth, which is what he’s using today.

After graduating from college in 2013, having studied Content Creation—photography, video, and graphic design in communication applications—Ryan was connected through a mutual friend to chaperone at an Entrenuity Business Camp, as well as shoot a promotional video for the camp. The theme of the week was around App Development and Ryan had a blast learning, as well as connecting with young entrepreneurs. While at the camp, Ryan was introduced to the StartingUp Now (SUN) 24 Principles to Launch Your Own Business.

Ryan found SUN invaluable as he developed his own ideas for a business. He says SUN’s system for “laying out bite-sized goals and principles to plan and execute is a blessing when starting a business, because there are many moving parts that can fight each other if not approached strategically.” Ryan considers SUN to be a sort of short-cut to starting a business, stating that while “you are still responsible for executing the steps, SUN guides you in a trajectory that helps eliminate and troubleshoot some of the common hindrances” to growing an idea into a viable business. While launching a business always includes some minor hiccups and things to modify, the SUN process of actually writing out his business plan allowed Ryan to “live outside my head concerning my ideas ... take advantage of opportunities … and test my assumptions based on live data.”

Ryan’s future plans are to create a “content creation ecosystem,” as he likes to call it, of which Lively Booth is just one of three parts. Creative media that is tailored to a brand or an individual’s persona and is strategized to fascinate a customer or add value to a customer is an area that Ryan finds exciting—an excitement he wants to share. The kind of excitement felt when your favorite sports team wins a championship or the way you feel after watching a really great movie, is how Ryan wants people to feel about the stories of people in their communities who are doing great work. He believes that content has the ability to inspire and challenge, by platforming messages and in turn reflecting the infectious and unique personalities around us.

Ryan’s advice to future entrepreneurs is to write down the ideas that keep reoccurring in their mind and set mini-goals to reach them. “You know what will happen if you don’t take action; however, you don’t know what will happen if you keep pursuing those ideas to fruition. That’s exciting.”

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