Social Media

Snapchat's ecosystem gets flooded by entrepreneurs and designers

Snapchat's addition of custom geofilters for its more than 100 million daily users lets individuals and businesses promote their events. Now, it's also creating a business opportunity for enterprising start-ups looking to capitalize on social-media trends.

Within the last couple of years, the temporary-messaging start-up has added features such as Snapchat Stories, allowing a string of "snaps" (pictures or short videos taken on the app) to live for 24 hours and reach a broader audience. They also added a Lenses feature that lets users modify their faces for videos and photos using augmented reality, a technology Snapchat gained from buying Looksery last year.

Custom birthday filter
Source: Makeshake

The popularity of lenses and filters on the Snapchat platform led to the company allowing for custom geofilters to mark events like weddings, birthdays or businesses. Now, brands and celebrities alike are using them to promote a product or event.

Enter Makeshake, an on-demand platform where users who might not have the design skills to create their own filter pay a designer to customize one for them. At an average of $22 per filter, users can purchase an image to overlay on top of videos and photos taken near that physical location.

Co-founders Mayra Alejandra and Kevin Page are trying to fill a void in the market for Snapchat users who might not be able to design their own filter. It's also a solution for businesses that don't want to pay the fee for one of Snapchat's custom, multiday filters.

"It's mainly U.S. and mainly women looking for a filter for their friend's wedding or their wedding," Alejandra told CNBC. "We've also learned that there's a limit to the marketplace in the fact that geofilters are only available in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S."

There are two types of geofilters Snapchat accepts: community filters and on-demand. Community filters can be purchased from Makeshake and are submitted for approval. While they can include locations such as a university, landmark or city, they cannot include a brand logo.

Makeshake is not alone as a third-party app cashing in on Snapchat's custom filters. Competitors include Geo-Filter (prices between $20-$100), My SnapFilter (prices between $75 to $200) and Geotag filters (prices between $50-100+) among others.

For now, designers are just customizing filters on Snapchat. With social media skewing toward more customizable content, however, it might open up more avenues for designers who want work.

Custom bridal Snapchat filter
Source: Makeshake

Requests have come from far and wide, including realtors in Dubai and a bride in the Netherlands, and Makeshake hasn't been able to accommodate them all. Thus far, their most popular templates are for weddings by either the bride or a friend of the bride. Birthdays are also a big hit, and the majority of Makeshake's clients are female.

So far, Makeshake has roughly 105 designers on board, based both in the U.S. and internationally, who signed up for the platform for free. Consumers can choose from pre-designed templates and can request changes such as names, shapes, colors or dates.

More work for idle designers

POTUS Birthday Filter.
Source: Makeshake

The designer then makes the changes and the customer receives a file to submit to Snapchat for review. Designers set their own price and receive 55 percent of the fee.

Both co-founders also do custom work for conferences and specific locations, where activation fees can vary widely depending on the location or event. Some areas, like a request over Google's Mountain View campus, cost $7, while Rockefeller Center in New York City came with a heftier $25 price tag.

Recently, they tested an area around the White House with a filter for President Barack Obama's birthday. That price jumped to $2,000.

For designers that aren't embedded within a company, finding work can be difficult. Yet the rise of social-media platforms that cater to users' customization are helping create more opportunities.

"I love it because I get so many requests for different things," said Cameron Schott, an Atlanta-based artist who also designs filters on both Makeshake and Etsy.

"I think that people want more custom events and more custom add-ons for things like weddings that make it more personal," Schott said. "There is much more custom work out there than there was even a year ago."

— By CNBC's Deborah Findling

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