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Passport-Photo.Online – a website and app that works like a passport photo booth in your pocket.

Our business provides the ideal solution for taking a passport photo without excessive action, right from your home or any other place you are at. It is fully automatic and allows you to quickly, simply, and easily take pictures for any official document, such as an ID card photo, passport photo, or visa photo.

On our website, you will also find current requirements, guidelines, sizes, and valuable tips on taking various document photos easily. There is also an app for taking passport photos with an iPhone and a list of free editing tools.

The business story began a long time ago; back in 2012, Rafał Młodzki, along with his two younger brothers, Tomasz Młodzki and Marcin Młodzki, built their very first photobooth in a Warsaw garage. Then everything started growing extremely fast – another 10, 50, and 100 photo booths appeared, and the company had excellent prospects. 

The turning point was when the pandemic started. Suddenly, the business had a 98% drop in revenue overnight. We went out on a limb, and luckily it worked out for the best. The shift to digital went well, and the app turned out to be a hit, so sales picked up pretty quickly. 

About me, Passport-Photo.Online Co-Founder and COO 

My name is Rafał Młodzki, and I was born in 1982. I am a programmer and philosopher by training and initially pursued an academic career but abandoned it early on to start my own business. As mentioned before, we created a national network of biometric photo booths along with my brothers. The latter, during the pandemic, turned into Passport Photo Online, which enables people all over the world to take passport photos without leaving home. Besides that, I created the most popular language-learning app in Poland (Fiszkoteka). I am a massive enthusiast of traveling and remote working.

Since studying philosophy, I was sure I was much more interested in changing the world than in just understanding it. I had no unique connections, extra money, know-how, or so. What I had, was a dream to come true, and I was ready to follow it at all costs. I want to emphasize how grateful I am for the opportunity to use my knowledge and ambitions to create a company that is now expanding increasingly and helps people worldwide in their daily lives.

What challenges does the business face?

One of our most complicated challenges right now is to mainlining strong employee engagement throughout the distributed team.

 In our company, we have implemented both hybrid and remote work. We wanted to provide flexibility and be open to top talents from various parts of the globe. That’s why some of our employees live in other countries and work remotely. Therefore, booster engagement can be challenging and almost impossible to achieve. 

To deal with the problem, we have planned some activities to foster employee engagement and team integration. Organize fun get-togethers, and provide space to meet in real life. 

Right now we are working very hard on the new office opening. It’s going to be located in Tenerife, and the idea behind it is to spend there some great time with work colleagues and enjoy the beauty of the place.

Before implementing any solutions, we had a whole gathering-feedback process so that the ways we choose would suit our employees best. We are still working on the problem but hope to see the situation getting better soon.

Another challenge (that is actually connected to the first one) is related to cultural diversity.

As we are hiring talents from all over the world, we have to work with various requirements and regulations. Although we consider it incredibly valuable, it does present a complicated HR challenge. 

Each country has its own different regulations and norms (both professional and cultural), making it very tough to navigate between all of them in a single workplace. Plus, those things aren’t constant, they change pretty frequently, and HR specialists have to adapt. 

Cultural diversity in a company also needs an incredible amount of knowledge from each employee, and providing that is on the leaders’ side. It is hard to ensure that each employee feels comfortable and appreciated when the perspectives of those individuals vary so much. 

We are also facing a completely new situation because of the war in Ukraine. 

It’s hard to classify it in any way. It’s a massive tragedy but also a reality we must adapt to. Many people came to Poland looking for help, and we all were ready to do our best for them. We managed to create a new photo application within three days (yes!), and it allows us or the authorities to take professional photos for documents in record time – about 15x faster than a “normal photographer”. One of our stations can now serve about 2 thousand people a day! Thanks to this technology and fast service, thousands of Refugees from the gigantic queue at the National Stadium can easily and for free take the required photo.   

About the opportunities waiting for us

We are now at a very exciting moment. The business is working very well, and we can smoothly expand and grow. Our dream is to become a leader in biometric photography online, and to do so; we want to reach as many customers from the markets we got in as possible. We believe that the places in which we are already present are still holding much potential.

We expect the company to grow continuously and want to focus on the inside of the business. 

Our employee’s well-being is one of the top priorities, and we plan to put a lot of effort into this area in the near future. Not only has the Great Resignation phenomenon got us to this point, but one of our primary goals is to be an employee-friendly company and a place where people want to work. We hope that the new space and other solutions we will implement will help us achieve that.

We also expect increased productivity in our teams. 

We bet on automatization and keep our fingers crossed for great results. We have already implemented solutions for marketing and SEO teams, but we plan to expand and find new ways for the HR department as well. 

The point is to let employees focus on the parts of their job that they enjoy and relieve them of tedious tasks. We think of using some tools for initial hiring tasks that will significantly speed up and ease the process of looking for new talents.

Advice from the business owner

Being a small business owner ( especially today) is not a piece of cake and is not only bright-colored. But it is of primary importance to have a resilient approach. It means not letting things get you down, even if nothing seems to go right at first. React to difficulties and be ready for them.

The key is not to have no bad days but to always try to see the positive side of things. A positive mindset can really bring positive things.

Also, attach great importance to team building. Create an enthusiastic and satisfying workplace, and keep in mind that success does not lay in on only one but in the union of cooperating members. As leaders, we should trust the people we hire and focus on creating a growth-encouraging workplace. Any micromanaging and controlling behaviors can result in the opposite of what we want.

I have recently come across an interesting Harvard study, which shows how important the trust factor in a company is. It turns out that compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, and 40% less burnout.

I hope it will inspire you to think of your business in a new way and improve your leadership strategies. Good luck!