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Social Playground brings a twist to traditional business

For a long time, the photobooth has been a staple feature of big events like weddings or birthday bashes. But since the rise of the selfie and popular social sharing platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, the photobooth has taken a backseat ride.

Bringing a digital twist to the old photobooth in the 21st Century is Social Playground. The events and activations agency provide a range of digital solutions that are designed to engage people at special occasions by creating content that can then be shared on social media.

Social Playground was the brainchild of Annabelle Davidson when she launched the company in 2013.

After living in New York for a few years she returned to Sydney and discovered a gap in the market. She recognised technology being used in America wasn’t being utilised in her own backyard and decided to take a calculated risk.

“Based on the success I had seen for the concept of the Instagram Printer in the US I decided to launch it to the Australian market. Instagram was just beginning to build traction, so it was the perfect time to bring something innovative and exciting to Oz,” Annabelle explained.

“I jumped on the opportunity and developed the software and hardware from scratch then took it to market and had an overwhelming response from brands and marketing agencies who were really excited about integrating it into their events and businesses.”

Having worked in the events and PR industry for several years, Annabelle was able to create a product that would appeal to Aussie brands looking to craft a sense of engagement with their consumers.

Since the company’s launch, the Instagram Printer has featured at thousands of events and is now one of eight products Social Playground has on offer. In fact, Social Playground’s Green Screen was one of the event highlights of The Big Small Business Christmas Party held on December 10.

Hosted in partnership by CGU Insurance and Nova, the party was created to celebrate and support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and was completely powered by SMEs.

The small business owner said Social Playground is continuously evolving to stay relevant and ahead of the market. And although Annabelle admitted to never having a five-year plan in place for Social Playground, her motivational spirit runs high and her portfolio of clients is a testament to all her hard-work.

“It’s our business’s ambition to constantly come up with innovative technology and ideas to keep pushing the industry forward and define new ways to engage and excite people,” she said passionately.

“It's so amazing to be able to have a phone call and book a meeting with big brands that I thought I'd never get to work with. That's really one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of the job.”

The business’s offerings and solutions have proven to be hot in demand, working with big brands including Google, Under Armour, Spotify and Topshop – just to name a few.

Growth came quickly for Social Playground, with the company signing an international deal in Singapore within three months of launching down under. However, Annabelle said among seeing her company flourish, the biggest perk of owning and running a small business is having the power to create a customised work culture and team.

“I think the team is definitely one of my biggest achievements and the culture that we've been able to foster,” she said.

“It's nice to have a company where people just love coming to work. One of my staff said to me once, she loves her job so much she’d work for free. It's really rewarding and nice to get that kind of feedback.”

Being a young mother of two, Annabelle juggles her time between family and work and understands how demanding life can get. She prides herself on being able to form shared business values with her team that creates a positive work culture.

“We are definitely a value driven company. Being able to choose and set the values and principles within the business helps achieve a healthy work life balance for everyone,” she said.

“We even have a ‘No Dickhead Policy’, which means if anyone is being too difficult to work with or have bullied us, we can refrain from working with them. It’s great to be in a position to do that and make those decisions to help my team achieve a happy working experience and get the most out of their job.”

She said the best piece of advice she could give to anyone aspiring to start their own small business is to stay focused and be brave enough to take the leap.

“I think having the courage to take the leap and risking it all is such a good decision. It gives you the motivation, drive and headspace to focus and invest 150 percent of your energy into it.”