The Luupe CEO Keren Sachs on Founding a One-Stop Production Marketplace

The Crunchbase “Female Leader Series” is comprised of stories, Q&As and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds and are now leading successful companies.

Keren Sachs is the founder and CEO of The Luupe, a one-stop production marketplace helping underrepresented photographers and creators connect with brands all over the world.

Noticing an absence of brands hiring woman photographers, Sachs started The Luupe with the mission to get more women and nonbinary photographers connected with jobs to generate income for themselves. Prior to founding The Luupe, Sachs was the director of content development at Shutterstock, where she helped create Offset, Shutterstock’s premier content library. She has also held content roles at National Geographic Society, Corbis, Williams-Sonoma and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

In this Q&A, Sachs dives into her inspiration for founding The Luupe and advice she has for other female founders starting their entrepreneurial journeys. 

Q: What inspired you to start your company?

I’ve spent most of my career working with photographers and businesses to shape their visions. Before creating The Luupe, I was the director of content development at Shutterstock and have held content roles at National Geographic Society and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. 

Responding to what I saw as an absence in brands hiring woman photographers, I created The Luupe, with the mission to get more women behind the lens and generate income for themselves. As brands increase the amount of content they release on various channels and prioritize capturing diverse perspectives, the need for diverse photographers increases as well. 


Q: In the first eight months of 2021, only 2.2 percent of venture capital was invested in female-only founded companies. Do you feel welcome and accepted as an underrepresented group in the VC space? 

Short answer, no. I fought an uphill battle to be taken seriously by investors as a woman founder. Many of the questions raised by potential investors specifically challenged my competence to lead and grow a startup as a woman. 

But I kept going and pushing forward. I kept building and refused to let the negative comments stop me. Now that we’ve closed our seed round, that has changed and I feel much more welcome. It’s a lengthy process but as soon as you find the right partner, the process becomes a bit more comfortable and you have the support going forward.


Q: How did you network, find communities and make the connections you needed to succeed?

I messaged anyone and everyone I thought could help me, especially in the early days. I wasn’t afraid to ask for intros and I took complete advantage of LinkedIn, I’m a superuser! I used the platform to foster relationships and connections and highly recommend other women founders do the same. 


Q: What is your advice for other female founders at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journeys?

Follow your dreams, really. If you believe in what you are building: keep building. Don’t be discouraged by the hurdles you will hit, by the comments you might hear: just keep building. Ask for help, ask for advice, be aware of what you do not know, and surround yourself with people who complement your skillset—people you can learn from. 


Q: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as the founder of your own company?

If you believe in what you are building, others will believe in you. I found and continue to home in on my voice as I build The Luupe. 

Pay things forward. That’s something I learned once I was more settled in my community. I found a group of incredible creators who elevate me, and I want to pay it forward by elevating and empowering others. I want the creators using The Luupe to feel inspired and share their success and connections to other underrepresented demographics. Whatever good fortune, help and guidance come at you in life, invest it in others. The more you do this, the more it keeps on coming your way. You continue to give, you continue to receive. 


Q: What is your advice for other entrepreneurs trying to scale their own company?

Don’t get overwhelmed. It’s easier said than done, but making sure you go into planning, problem-solving, developing, etc. with a clear and open mind is so vital. You are a direct reflection of your company. If you work hard to keep things organized, properly manage your time, foster a culture and environment that encourages employees and their mental well-being, you will quickly see the success coming in. It may seem like a big task at hand because it is. But don’t let those inhibitions cloud your judgment or actions.

I would also say to lean on your community. You won’t believe how many different ways people can be helpful. Listen to those around you. There will always, always, be someone you can learn from. Someone who can contribute to your growth (and thus, your company’s growth).


Q: What challenge are you most proud of overcoming in your career?

The biggest challenge I faced was definitely being taken seriously as a woman entrepreneur in a male-dominated world. Overcoming it seemed impossible at points and is likely a huge deterrent for woman founders, but throughout the process, I met with the support and empowerment of other women in the community that helped me forge my path through closing my seed. 


Q: Any thoughts/advice for entrepreneurs in the current economic climate?

Be flexible and resourceful. If there’s anything recent years have taught us, it’s that everything can change in an instant. Overnight, your entire business can be forced remote. Your entire customer base can shift online. Your payment model may have nothing to stand on anymore. Even if you remove the pandemic from the equation, you still have ever-evolving technology that is constantly disrupting your business landscape. Be open to these changes. Don’t be afraid to turn to those in your network who are experts. Be open to advice and feedback. Being honest with what you don’t know and where you need guidance makes you a stronger leader. 


Q: What do you find most rewarding about your experience as a founder so far?

Creating new opportunities for underrepresented photographers. My company, The Luupe, is a one-stop production marketplace helping brands collaborate with a curated community of woman photographers all over the world. Our mission is to help them generate income. Sophisticated brands have access to a burgeoning group of women and nonbinary photographers for work. In turn, photographers create authentic visuals for brands that reflect their global audiences at scale. In addition to the marketplace, The Luupe helps photographers network with each other, share technical tips, negotiation strategies, portfolio reviews, job opportunities and use our blog to share stories on creative women and visual culture.

Our biggest goal is to champion and amplify underrepresented voices and help brands and photographers seamlessly make impactful work that speaks to everyone. Creators are empowered, brands are empowered and customers are empowered.

  • Originally published April 22, 2022, updated April 26, 2023