Home Tech Digital Wink Models Founder, Taryn Williams, disrupts her own industry after building one...

Wink Models Founder, Taryn Williams, disrupts her own industry after building one of Australia’s leading model agencies

Technology and tradition are continually battling it out as each fight for their place on the industrial landscape. We have Uber vs taxis, Airbnb vs hotels and now even home chefs vs restaurants. Accomplished entrepreneur, Taryn Williams, has a very different outlook on the infiltration of technology into the status quo – so alternative that after growing her model agency, Wink Models, to an annual turnover of $4 million, she has been prepared to “press the disrupt button“ on her own industry with the introduction of her digital marketplace, theright.fit.

Starting her modelling career at the age of 15, Taryn quickly found herself travelling the world and experiencing the many facets of the industry. From working client side as a photographic to event production, Taryn enjoyed the ultimate industry internship.

Taryn said “with experience on both sides of the camera I saw an opportunity to create a positive change in an industry I loved. The biggest motivator to start my own business was improving conditions for models and creating a better workflow between talent and clients.

“Subsequently, Wink Models was born.”

‘Technology is no longer an enabler, it is a creator of opportunities’

Recognising that it’s not an easy business in which to maintain a level head, Wink models was introduced in 2007 as the humble, down-to-earth alternative to other agencies. Taryn believes it has been the preservation of this ethos that has accelerated the business to its leading position over the past eight years.

Highly profitable and enjoying a prominent market position, most business owners might be inclined to espouse the old adage: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ But not Taryn. Taryn says “technology advances are infiltrating every industry. Technology is no longer an enabler, it is a creator of opportunities.

“When I started Wink it was because I identified a gap in the market for change and a way of doing things better. Theright.fit is built on the same principle.”

Theright.fit allows models who don’t already have representation to create an online professional profile. From here they will have direct access to jobs with the ability to control where and when they work, as well as knowing how much they will be paid. On the other side of the fence, clients will have direct access to talent with the ability to set budgets and be guided by a talent rating system.

‘Two businesses that appear to be on opposing sides of the argument’

By removing the ‘middle man,’ Taryn certainly has her finger firmly on the ‘disrupt’ button launching this new venture – but one burning question remains: in a climate where tech start-ups and traditional businesses continue to wrangle over their place in the market, how does a serial entrepreneur reconcile two businesses that appear to be on opposing sides of the argument? Taryn’s response is trend rebutting if not entirely practical:

“We’ll definitely see a greater volume of work being managed in the digital space.

“The industry is constantly growing and the reality is that there are plenty of models and talent out there who don’t have representation.

“There will always be clients who want a full service traditional agency, in the same way there are people who prefer hire cars or taxis over Uber, or hotels over Airbnb. The different platforms cater to the different ways people prefer to do business.

“Agencies will continue to grow and thrive if they adapt to the changing market trends and needs.”

‘There might be a lesson for the traditionalists and sceptics’

Theright.fit may disrupt the status quo in an agency dominated industry; but reflected in her 5-year projection for Wink Models, Taryn certainly believes there’s ‘enough’ to go around. While its offices in Brisbane and Melbourne are expected to grow to the same size as Sydney, revenue forecasts are anticipating a 25 per cent increase, year-on-year.

Taryn’s aspirations for theright.fit, however extend far beyond its birth place. The 5-year plan will be to establish theright.fit as a global platform with talent in New York, LA, London and Paris as well as countries across Asia.

“We’ll have transformed the industry and have a leading market share while building a great market community,” she said.

If Taryn’s aspirations for both Wink Models and theright.fit become reality, there might be a lesson for the traditionalists and sceptics to pay heed to: their focus should shift away from criticising disruptive business models and recognise that technology – as it always has been – is indeed the creator of further opportunity. Will the taxi industry eventually find a way to coexist or even collaborate with Uber? Time will tell.

Daniel Jacobs
Daniel Jacobs was editor of Dynamic Business.