When Keegan Slattery looks at LinkedIn and other networking sites, he sees a recurring theme – a lot of people have bad photos that don’t represent themselves or their companies well. 

Recruiters often use those sites to find and screen job candidates, and the first thing they see is a person’s photo. Slattery wanted to help people look more polished and professional, so he and a co-worker purchased Bettershot.ai, an artificial intelligence tool that generates better-looking headshots from casual photos. For $29, users can get up to 120 headshots in various locations and styles within three hours.

“A crappy photo doesn’t convey trust or professionalism, and it’s important to project those qualities in every interaction when trying to get a job,” said Slattery, a 2013 graduate of Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and Whitman School of Management. He earned bachelors’ degrees in information management and technology and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises. 

“We want everyone to have strong photos that they love, and hiring a photographer is difficult, expensive, and time consuming,” he said. “I adore getting feedback from users that they love the images we create and seeing the images in the wild on LinkedIn profiles.”

After spending his career in digital marketing at LinkedIn and 2U, Slattery wanted something of his own. Bettershot.ai marks his first time forging out on his own to start something from scratch. Although he left the security of a 9-to-5 and the benefits that come with that, he gained a newfound sense of freedom and motivation.

“There’s a very different energy to working on something that, if successful, directly benefits you instead of a company’s shareholders,” he said. “I love working with my co-founder, Rachelle Brempong, and seeing the fruits of our collective efforts.”

Ideally, Slattery would like to scale Bettershot.ai into a $30,000 monthly recurring revenue business in the next 18 months. That would allow him to put processes in place to manage the day-to-day so he can buy other interesting technologies and apply the same go-to-market strategies. 

“I’d love to have a portfolio of small, cash-flowing businesses that I get to spend my time working on, with lots of flexibility to ski, bike ride, and spend time raising a family,” said Slattery, who lives in Denver with his wife and two dogs. 

Running startups requires a blend of varied skills in marketing, technology, product development, design, project management and business operations – much of which Slattery learned at Syracuse. 

“My dual degree gave me an excellent balance of technological know-how and business acumen,” he said. “I loved being surrounded by other students who loved technology, social media, and throwing around startup ideas. My education on computer networking, coding, social media platforms, business planning, and entrepreneurship have helped me be a very well-rounded professional who can bridge the gap between technical and strategic.”

If he could give advice to current Syracuse students, Slattery would encourage them to treat class projects like they are the real thing and solicit feedback from people who work in the industry. 

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to alumni or friends who are working in the fields you want to explore. You’ll be surprised how much people want to help and talk about their experiences,” he said. “After all, the worst thing they can do is say no. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get. This applies to the corporate world as well. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, so don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need.”