EyeEm, a startup that emerged a couple of years ago as one of many Instagram rivals, has found its feet in the past six months with solid traction. Now it’s raised $6 million in funding to capitalize on its user growth by attempting to make a couple of familiar business models work: stock photography and branded missions.

EyeEm’s app combines the familiar ‘snapshots and filters’ approach with metadata that collects not just location and time for each photo, but contextual information like what a user was doing at the time. It took a while to take off, but hit its first one million downloads in November last year before benefitting from a surge of interest in Instagram alternatives after the Terms of Service debacle in December.

However, CEO Florian Meissner says that the chance discovery of the app by some Texas schoolchildren earlier this year really kicked off its viral growth, which has resulted in it now seeing more than one million downloads per month

eyeem1 220x366 Mobile photo app EyeEm gains 1m users per month and its just got $6m to make money from them     eyeem2 220x366 Mobile photo app EyeEm gains 1m users per month and its just got $6m to make money from them

With that kind of ramp in traction (it’s worth noting that EyeEm isn’t saying exactly how many of these new users stick around for regular usage after downloading the app), it’s time to turn EyeEm into a business. The new funding round to power this drive was led by Earlybird Venture Capital with participation from existing investors Wellington Partners and Passion Capital.

The first of its approaches to generating revenue, a marketplace for stock photography shot on phones, isn’t entirely new (in fact we covered Scoopshot just yesterday), but Meissner says that EyeEm’s user base combined with its rich metadata will allow users to find what they’re looking for.

The other business model is even more familiar – photography missions. We’ve seen many startups, including the recently relaunched Appysnap and Sweden’s Foap, try this to varying degrees of success both now and in the past. EyeEm has worked with brands such as Lufthansa, Red Bull and Vice magazine to incentivize users to take photos for use in marketing campaigns, by way of competitions.

Again, Meissner says that EyeEm’s scale will allow it to work to a greater degree than others have achieved. Assuming those one million new users per month actually are engaging with the app regularly, he might be right.

EyeEm is a free download for iOS and Android, and available now.

➤ EyeEm: iOS / Android