Michael Fluharty will make you famous.
At least that’s the idea behind the local entrepreneur’s Paparazzi Stand, a digital photo-taking machine that is showing up all over town and may soon be featured at clubs across the country.
The device, a five-foot-tall metal stand with a 20-inch touch screen, combines the charm of an old-school photo booth with the allure of a red carpet photo session and gives it a modern twist for the social media age.
It’s this one-of-a-kind idea, dreamed up by Fluharty just over a year ago, and a knack for marketing that has the man behind the stand poised to become one of the most influential people in the local entertainment industry.
Myrtle Beach Music: Paparazzi Stand creator Michael Fluharty poses with one of his machines
“I was just sitting on my back porch one day, wanting to build something that could be interactive and fun,” he said. “And I thought there are three reasons people come to a website: One, there’s information that they want. Two, there’s a product that they want to purchase. Or three — which I think is the most popular — because I have your picture.”
Fluharty said the reason photos are such a powerful draw is because they capture an emotion that is unlike anything you can buy.
“To people those moments — those memories — are extremely powerful,” he said.
His formula of hoarding hundreds of images per night and offering them as free downloads on the Paparazzi Stand website is one that has not only drawn attention from the clubgoers whose often-goofy poses are caught on film, but has also caught the eye of many businesses and advertisers.
“It’s been a definite plus for our clubs to have Michael’s invention in them. People love it. They come in and they feel like the Paparazzi is right there,” said Alyssa Powell who's in charge of marketing for Celebrations Nitelife.
Throwing out mind-boggling audience figures at a rapid pace, Fluharty has an impressive pitch. He talks about the more than 60,000 photos taken since he launched the business and a potential reach of more than 15,000 views per photo.
In addition to six potential ad slots plastered on each picture taken by the Paparazzi Stand, Fluharty said there are plenty of ways to use his product to get the word out.
Myrtle Beach Music: A sample photo from the Paparazzi Stand taken at Tunnel Ultralounge
“We sell advertisements on the pictures themselves,” he said. “We can sell ads on the machine, on the banner and background, on the carpet and on one side of a business card that everyone takes home. We’re even working toward the point where when someone comes to register for the site they will have to become a Facebook fan of certain businesses.”
Along with big opportunities comes big aspirations for making a splash on the national scene.
Paparazzi Entertainment Group, the parent company run by Fluharty and his partners, has plans to implement more than 200 machines in the next 12 months.
With hopes of raising venture capital in the seven-figure range, they will hit more than 50 cities in the U.S., including hotspots such as Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and Charlotte.
In addition, Fluharty hopes to raise the profile of the product by having it featured on the red carpet at events such as the Oscars, MTV Awards and the CMT Awards.
And the lofty goals don’t end there.
“At 100 machines operating at the same rate they do in Myrtle Beach, we should reach about 500,000 photos our first year of launch with a potential of 12.7 million views. Facebook reached a million users its first year,” Fluharty said. “We could literally be the next Facebook.”
Check out Paparazzi Stand here.