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A person uses a camera.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

FlashStock Inc., a startup with Canadian roots, closed a seed round that brought in cash from investors including Facebook Inc. veteran Kevin Colleran and HootSuite founder Ryan Holmes.

The company is building a system to connect brand-name companies with photographers on the street. The plan is to have photographers snap photos of branded products in real-life situations and feed them into the FlashStock network, which will handle all the rights management and payment for the companies so they can freely use the photographs.

FlashStock has one of its founders, Michael Scissons, in New York where he can connect with the big brands and their advertising agencies. Another founder, Grant Munro, is in Toronto, where the firm does its development work. Both founders are Canadian.

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The goal is to be "an Instagram for brands," Mr. Munro said in an interview.

There are believers behind it – mostly from the U.S.

The board of directors includes Tom Arrix, a former head of North American sales at Facebook, Chris Burggraeve, a former chief market officer at Anheuser-Busch InBev (one can see the appeal of this for Budweiser) and William Campbell, who once ran Citigroup Inc.'s global consumer business.

There's another big name from Facebook in Mr. Colleran, one of the original 10 employees at Facebook.

Why the buzz? Mr. Munro says he believes the company could have $100-million in revenue in three to five years.

The real key is likely to be the rights management aspect, because companies that want photos won't have to worry about exposing themselves to future costs from photographers claiming they should have been paid.

The system is up and running and there are about 20 brands already signed up in a beta-testing phase, Mr. Munro said.

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Companies looking for photos of their brands pay subscription fees starting at $1,250 (U.S.) a month. Photographers can earn $10 and $200 a month, as well as other incentives. Plus, there is the advantage of exposure for photographers looking to showcase their work.

"The model ideally is this could be a great second career" for someone with a photography interest, Mr. Munro said.

Mr. Munro said he expects that some of the busiest contributors to FlashStock may be college students who are into photography and could use a little money on the side. The company is focusing some of its efforts to build a network on campuses for that reason.

The seed round should carry FlashStock through to the end of the year, when Mr. Munro said he expects the company will be looking for a Series A round.

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