The Blog of Kendall

Observations and Interests of Kendall Schoenrock – Web 2.0, Startups, Technology, & Other Fun Stuff

May 6, 2008

Interview with the CEO of ScanDigital.com

Written by
Kendall Schoenrock

ScanDigital_Logo

For this post I decided to keep it close to home and interview my older brother, Anderson Schoenrock, CEO of ScanDigital.com. Stay tuned as I have a few other interesting entrepreneur interviews in the works. A sincere thank you to my big brother for agreeing to do this interview.Anderson Schoenrock

Tell us about ScanDigital. What are you trying to accomplish?

Sure thing Kendall, thanks for the opportunity to talk to your readers. ScanDigital is an innovative company that provides a service to convert old photographic and movie materials to digital format. We make it easy for people to preserve, organize, and enjoy their photos and video in the digital age. ScanDigital has developed a unique process that is secure, user-friendly and returns a high quality end product. Photos and video are converted to digital format and continually quality checked throughout the process. For photographic materials, our service includes scanning and professional retouching. The digital files are returned on a CD or DVD as well as in an online gallery at ScanDigital where they can be shared with friends and also archived for safekeeping. Our goal is to provide the highest quality service to our customers, with the least amount of hassle possible and in a manner that is highly secure.

What’s the backstory? How long have you been around? How did it get started?

My college friend, Mike Mothner, approached me about the idea after Christmas 2006. He gave his mom a digital camera and after seeing how easy it was to organize all of the new images on her computer, she asked how she could do the same with the old photos from the garage. Mike and I realized there had to be more people out there with the same question. ScanDigital was born in early 2007 and then launched in June 2007. The first year has been nothing short of phenomenal. We’ve grown from 2 employees to 20 employees. Processed more than half a million images and greatly improved our services along the way.

The experience has exceeded my expectations on every front. That’s not to say we are lacking our share of daily ups and downs like every start up, but the overwhelming trend as been onward and upward. I am especially excited for Year 2 as Year 1 has been focused on putting in place the groundwork and building blocks to take the Company to the next level.

500,000 images scanned is impressive. What new products are you bringing to market?

When we launched we simply offered the conversion of 35 mm negatives, slides, printed photos and photos in albums. Since our launch we have added numerous photographic formats to cover a wider spectrum of materials – and especially materials for high end amateurs and professional photographers, pre-loaded Digital Photo Frames, Custom DVD Slideshows and Video and Film Conversion services. In addition, our overall process and service has gone through several iterations of major improvements.

While the fundamental service is the same and the quality has remained high from Day 1, we have built a highly unique workflow management system called the EssentialTracker. Through the EssentialTracker all 14 steps of our process our integrated within our facility and customers have access to information about the status of their order in real time. This has taken our internal logistics to a whole new level that is unmatched by any other company in our market space.

What is unique and different about this service?

When we started ScanDigital we took a fundamentally different approach to this business than any of our competitors. Our service is focused on the customer and the user experience. Everything we do is focused on making a very technical, time consuming, daunting process easy for our users. At the same time we realized that there is a need to accommodate a wide spectrum of customers. We work with people that range from 80 year old grandmothers who know little to nothing about computers to professional photographers and design studios that are involved in photography professionally. This means we needed to create a process rigid enough to be fast, safe, secure and high quality while flexible enough to meet the needs of all customers. This lead to our Dynamic Order Form, which literally changes on the fly as the user makes their selections. Steps that are superfluous for that individual customer are hidden and other steps are revealed only as needed.

From a pure service perspective, we are the only service to have both the online photo gallery and conversion service components. We not only convert old material to digital files, but we also post them to our online photo gallery. People can also upload new digital images to their gallery in order to organize their images in one place, creating a seamless photo archive.

ScanDigital also has the fasted turnaround time in the industry, something that is highly valued by our customers.

Who uses your services?

One of the best things about this business is that it appeals to a wide spectrum of potential customers. Pretty much anybody that has any photographic materials or video materials sitting in an out of date format is a potential customer for us. Families use our service to preserve and protect their images against floods, fires, or other disaster. Photographers use ScanDigital to convert their old photographs to digital files in order to sell them on stock photo sites. Brides and grooms use our service to have Slideshows made to play at the rehearsal dinner. We’ve worked with doctors to convert medical slides into digital. Our list of professional/business clients includes architecture firms, design firms, party planners, professional organizers, funeral directors, governmental organizations. Clients that most people would recognize include the City of Pasadena, MTV Studios, Volcom, Shane Battier (NBA Star – Houston Rockets) and Dana Delaney (actress on Desperate Housewives).

Given that we appeal to many different markets, I’ve found myself attending events that I would never have imaged. A few weeks ago I attended a Craft and Hobby Convention speaking about how digital images can enhance crafts. Last week I was at a Funeral Director Tradeshow to meet with funeral directors who are ideal for our affiliate program. In early June we’ll be exhibiting at the world’s largest Scrapbooking Convention. It’s exciting to think of new ways to expand our audience but sometimes I have just laugh when I look at my schedule.

What’s the best part about this business for you?

I’ve been asked this question several times and it is hard to pinpoint the best part. There are so many things I enjoy about what we’re doing here and what we’re building. Internally, I think it is our team and building our team. We’ve hired great people and they’ve helped build a successful platform. We’re very much in a hypergrowth stage which means a lot is asked of our employees. Things change all the time. At one point we were hiring a new person every two weeks. People that were hired to do one thing are now doing performing other tasks. This requires a team that is willing to roll with things a bit, it’s a lot to ask and the team on the whole has responded in an outstanding manner.

Externally, it’s hearing from our customers. As I mentioned our customer’s are our focus and as part of that I have made it a goal to reach out to as many of them as possible to hear what they liked and what they did not like. People have asked me how I can afford to spend so much time soliciting feedback and interacting directly with customers. I am not sure how I can afford not to! I think what we’ve put in place is great, but I always assume it could be better. Listening to our customers is important for growing the business the right way. It is always especially rewarding to see the positive impact we’re having on people. We’re really in the business of helping people bring materials back to life that are otherwise useless in many cases. When I hear how excited someone was to view a set of slides for the first time in 30 years or to see an image they had forgotten about it really motivates me to continue building our business and reaching more customers.

Anderson, thanks for your time in lining up with me. It sounds like you’re building a great company. I will open the floor up to additional questions. Feel free to leave a question in the comments section as Anderson has graciously offered to answer more questions as well. Comments as always are also welcomed. Thanks!

6 comments for this post.

  1. Comment from ian on May 6th, 2008 :

    This sounds like a really great idea! I know I have a shoebox full of pictures tucked away somewhere and I simply never thought anything would become of them. If I have a shoebox, I could imagine others have amassed thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of pictures simply tucked away.

    Well done, I think you’re in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing.

  2. Comment from Kendall on May 6th, 2008 :

    Ian,

    Thanks for your feedback. Good points about the potential market size. Anderson, do you want to chime in with some of your statistics? How big of a market is this?

    Thanks,
    Kendall

  3. Comment from Anderson on May 7th, 2008 :

    Thanks for your question about potential market size. According to studies, there are an estimated 1 trillion photos in the world. For every 1% of these that is converted to digital through a service, it represents $5 billion in revenues. Assuming the average price of $0.50 per image, this market could easily be a $1-2 billion market per year over the next 10 years.

    There are over 2700 photographs taken every second around the world, adding up to well over 80 billion new images a year taken on over 3 billion rolls of film, according to estimates published by the United States Department of Commerce (in 2000) – this number has likely gone down but still billions of images being added on film per year.

    These statistics only account for photographic material and do not even touch video or reel to reel film conversion. As you see, ScanDigital provides a service that has huge a potential market size.

    I hope that was helpful. I’m happy to answer any other questions your readers may have.

    Anderson

  4. Comment from Jayme on May 7th, 2008 :

    Anderson,

    As you know, I have used your service and am very impressed with the quality. What kind of statistical process controls do you have in place to ensure such a high quality product?

    Please know your company is doing an awesome job!

    Jayme

  5. Comment from Anderson on May 7th, 2008 :

    Jayme,

    ScanDigital’s process is not automated, as each photo is handled individually by our professional team. Everything is manually edited and checked 3 times with human eyes to ensure quality.

    I’m glad to hear you enjoyed our service!

    Anderson

  6. Comment from Pamela on May 7th, 2008 :

    My friend recently lost her home to a fire. Luckily everyone in her family was safe, but she is devastated about the loss of her photos and home movies. These items are irreplaceable.

    This seems like such an easy way to back up and preserve your most valuable possessions. Such a great idea!

    Pamela

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