WHAT: High-end photo printing and shipping to friends and family on an as-needed or monthly basis. Cost is based on how many people you send to: $7 per recipient for 15 4x6 photos, or about $0.47 per print. Picplum's target market is parents of young children.
LAUNCHERS: Paul Stamatiou and Akshay Dodeja. Paul previously co-founded two startups, one of which (Notifo) went through Y Combinator's winter '10 class. Akshay founded electronic dance music site Mugasha.
WHY: Photo printing sites and retailers are focused on low cost, not high-quality prints and a great experience. Parents don't have time to print and mail photos to family and friends.
WHEN/WHERE: Aug. 12 / Mountain View
BACKSTORY: Akshay and Paul acquired the assets of YC '08 company Picwing, which started out making interactive frames then pivoted to photo printing/sending in March 2009. Picwing's founders, who moved on to making mobile apps, have equity in Picplum.
The week before YC's summer 2011 class began, YC co-founder Paul Graham approached Paul S. about taking over/relaunching Picwing because he still loved the idea. Paul S. loved it, too, and asked Akshay, who was looking for a new challenge, to join him. Akshay read Paul S.'s blog while both were college students, and each built a company at Startup Weekend in their respective cities. They met at SXSW in 2009 and were SXSW roommates in 2010.
Paul S. says they essentially started from scratch by getting rid of features and rethinking the user experience. Says Akshay, "The business model is the same, but the way we think about the product is very different." Picwing will continue running for about another six months.
BUSINESS MODEL: Offering the first batch of photos for free and converting those people to regular customers.
COMPETITION: Shutterfly, Snapfish and Postagram plus photo-printing services of retailers like Walmart, Target, Costco, etc. Also competing with photobook services -- something Akshay says Picplum might eventually offer.
CUSTOMERS/GROWTH: About 50 so far, sent 15-20 batches.
MARKETING PLANS: Akshay says they're thinking about working with mommy bloggers, creating packages of photos that first-time customers can give away to their friends, and publishing SEO-friendly copy on topics like preparing for a baby shower and sending those photos to your guests.
FULFILLMENT: Picwing outsourced everything. Picplum is using a printer in San Francisco for images but is handling fulfillment in-house. Right now the founders and employee dedicated to fulfillment are experimenting with the packaging and measuring feedback from customers.
GOAL: "To make photo printing really easy" says Akshay but also the "top company known for high quality prints. Hallmark has a very good reputation when it comes to quality stationery. We want to be that for print."
Akshay also thinks Picplum could become known as the place you keep and share your best photos (rather than all of them).
WHO BACKED IT: Y Combinator. Currently raising.
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 3
After signing up with your email address, upload photos one of three ways: dragging and dropping, uploading or emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once your photos are in, enter recipients or choose from ones you've previously saved.
Decide which photos to send. If you're on a monthly plan, after the first batch, photos you upload will automatically print and ship to recipients.
Photos arrive in branded packages that look nothing like what you get at Walmart.
1. "Photo Printing Market Growth Demands Increased Consumer Education" (InfoTrends, Jan. 11, 2011)
2. "Album of the years: can photo albums survive the digital age?" (The Guardian, June 14, 2011)
CONTACTS & LINKS