Artists and photographers who want to sell their work as high-quality physical prints have a new tool at their disposal.
Seattle-based startup Prints.ly launched its online print sales platform last month. Founders Kevin Jaspal and Blair deLaubenfels started the company after speaking with hundreds of popular photographers and learning about their frustration with selling physical prints of their work while maintaining high quality and customer service.
Jaspal, who was previously an engineer at Amazon, said Prints.ly gives “artists a place to feel confident about selling their work online.” The 6-person company offers Fuji’s Crystal Archive papers, gallery quality frames, and 8mm archival mats.
“Hundreds of millions of ordinary images are posted on social media everyday and Prints.ly cuts through the noise by showcasing artistic, meaningful photography that deserves to be displayed in the homes and businesses of art lovers everywhere,” he said. “Long term we see Prints.ly removing the gallery gate keeper for artists similar to the way Kindle Direct Publishing removed the middle man for writers.”.
We caught up with Jaspal for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Prints.ly offers museum quality prints and frames not found in retail stores, to consumers that want reasonably priced art that does more than match their couch.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We interviewed dozens of popular photographers and found they had requests for prints they could not fill because of time of logistic constraints.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrap, because we could. We decided to launch our business without initial funding to build a strong foundation based on our long-term vision, and we’re currently considering investment to quickly expand on our opportunities.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our in-depth understanding of what is important to artists. This knowledge allowed us to build a technology platform based on their desires and a pre-launch community of 100 photographers with a combined Instagram following of 15-plus million.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Hiring developers in Argentina.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Underestimating the complexity of building an online marketplace that sells physical goods with international payments to artists.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “While they are all brilliant ,we would take Bezos because he understands the value of customer obsession, seamless logistics and long-term strategies that disrupt traditional industries.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Sending thoughtful gifts and funny memes to one another — entrepreneurship is stressful so we keep things supportive and positive.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “A strong work ethic, a sense of ownership and an absolute devotion to customer service.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Entrepreneurship is about overcoming obstacles. Having a strong team and the determination to execute through every barrier is critical to success.”