How 3 Engineers Changed the Way People Purchase Paintings: The Story and Birth of PortraitFlip

“A person is limited not by his vision but by his imagination.”

PortraitFlip in a niche gifting platform with expertise in expertly handcrafted paintings. After being given 6 months of part time and 5 months of full time attention it witnessed some exponential and outstanding growth.

It grew 170% every month and that too organically!

There is lot of competition in this space with many sites such as Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Alibaba etc offering a wide array of products as they have quite a few sellers who are willing to contribute to their platform.

However they have a few glitches which make the customer confused as to the product that would cater to his/her exact needs.

Within every problem lies an opportunity and thus creates the space for such niche e-commerce platform to emerge and grow.

PortraitFlip is now a successful start-up with a selective range of 10-15 products on their website.

PortraitFlip | The Story :

PortraitFlip was started by a group three college friends who were at the time studying engineering in the prestigious VIT University.

Mr. Lavdeep Chahal and Mr. Sunny Choudhary are mechanical engineers whilst their third comrade Mr. Shubhanshu Maheshwari is an electrical engineer.

Mr. Maheshwari always had a keen eye for business. He tried a few start-ups single handedly and also a few of them with Mr. Chahal related to customized mobile covers, bike rentals, an e commerce book site etc before starting PortraitFlip.

Mr. Maheshwari learnt a lot about website designing and their various functions because of his previous ventures, thus helping to boost PortraitFlip in its infancy.

Mr. Choudhary’s expertise in SEO is outstanding and thus he handles the marketing aspect of PortraitFlip.

Thus the three of them got together and sought opportunities to open up a niche in the gifting sector.

The story of the brainchild behind PortraitFlip is when one of the co-founders found it difficult to choose the perfect gift for a special occasion for a special person.

How many of us have been in that position!

It had to be something creative yet personal and hence PortraitFlip was born.

PortraitFlip was initially started on a collective investment of INR 10,000 which was acquired from saving the monthly pocket money that they used to get in college.

Their first website was a catalog of barely 5 products. This proves that humble beginnings, is no obstacle to achieving great success.

Their uniqueness lies in their ability to provide 100% handcrafted products which can be customized according to the needs of the customers.

Any customer can make as many revisions as they like during the process without any extra charges.

Finding the perfect artist for the perfect painting is always a difficult task especially when it comes to portrait paintings.

PortraitFlip simplifies this process as anyone from around the world can now acquire a custom made portrait from the comfort of their home.

All that is required of the customer is that he uploads the picture that he/she wants to be converted into the painting.

PortraitFlip’s main aim is to bring a wide smile on the faces of its customers and completely reinvent the gifting process, adding a more personal touch to it.

It is a great experience for the giver as well as the receiver.

PortraitFlip is thus creating new standards when it comes to gifting your loved ones.

After maintaining PortraitFlip as a part time venture for 6 months they invested their blood and sweat in it after their graduation, thus being able to turn their dream of selling beautiful portraits into a reality.

They took every failure in their stride as they made and remade, launched and discarded several products on their website.

Now they have a team of 40 artists, painting studios, content writers and graphic designers. With a team of highly enthusiastic workers they can take up several orders and ship them within 2 weeks.

70% of their traction is from US, 15% from the UK, Canada and Australia.

The remaining traction is generated from India.

A widespread customer base helps them generate good revenue from their web platform.

Inspiration / Mentors:

With the revolutionary digital age gaining knowledge and information could not be much easier.

The founding members of PortraitFlip state that they learned everything that they know about marketing and business from world renowned gurus Niel Patel and Patrick Bet David respectively.

YouTube has been their mediator to gain knowledge from these famous personalities.

Its Basic Functioning:

PortraitFlip has a huge base of artists and thus the customers can get exactly what they are looking for.

The customers also have the option of communicating with them via the option of live chat on their website thus being able to provide all the possible assistance that is required.

The customer goes to the site and has to choose the medium and size in which he would like his portrait.

After that they can relax, chill out and wait for their painting to be delivered.

PortraitFlip is quite active on social media and have effectively been used to build up their brand value and also generate orders.

They have constantly been working on SEO to bring in a good amount of traffic to their website.

Targeting keywords has been their main strategy to bring vast flock of audiences to their platform.

Instagram has been a great resource to attract the younger audience.

A minimum of 12 enquiries are received from Instagram itself.

The best thing about their business model is that they do not require any sort of inventory or store room.

They take the orders and directly pass it on to the artists.

This is a big financial relief especially for a start-up.

PortraitFlip believes that their customers are the best marketers.


There have been quite a few ups and downs in their journey so far.

There was a time when the founding members had to collect funds from their friends to raise capital and sustain their company.

They have weathered that storm and seem to be in a better place now.


As with any start-up, creating brand awareness and establishing a proper customer base was a big challenge.

With more than 6k+ followers on Instagram and an active social handle they seem to have created a space for themselves.

They have also been able to generate good traffic on their website via some great SEO knowledge.

When it comes to customized goods other platforms take a minimum of a month to get it delivered where as PortraitFlip does it in 2-3 weeks.

As cool as it sounds maintaining this kind of efficiency can be a tough thing as even small discrepancies in the process can result in huge delay.

Future plans:

With the hunger and passion that the founding members have shown to get PortraitFlip to this point the future looks bright and exciting.

PortraitFlip aims at branding the company through connected customers to bring in more of them.

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