Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Interview with Anderson Schoenrock, ScanDigital
Our interview today is with Anderson Schoenrock, Co-founder of ScanDigital (www.scandigital.com), a Los Angeles startup which takes and scans photos and slides for consumers and turns them into digital files. Anderson spoke with socalTECH's Ben Kuo and his company.
Tell me a bit about ScanDigital, and what your service offers to consumers?
Anderson Schoenrock: We've created an innovative service to help people take their old photos, slides, negatives, and photo albums, and convert them to digital format. Our process, in addition to scanning work, also provides what we call light restoration, which is optimizing of images--color correction to try to reverse the decay naturally occurring in photographic materials. When that's all complete, we return the originals to the customer, digital files on CD or DVD, as well as put it on an online gallery for them.
What's the target market, and who do you see using your services?
Anderson Schoenrock: We actually have a broad range of customers. I would say sixty to seventy percent of our customers are general consumers--amateur photographers with personal photo collections, and are looking to convert a lifetime of photos to digital. The remaining portion is divided between what we call a high end amateur--a hobbyist user--who is actively taking photos, with professional quality, but which is not their primary source of income. We also have professional photographers, who use us to convert to digital their thousands of images they've taken over their careers. Finally, the last segment of our business is business-to-business type customers. These are typically architecture firms, who want to digital images of their projects, doctors using us to digitize medical slides, and we've also worked with major studios here in Los Angeles to digitize the material they've taken over the years for projects. It's a full spectrum, but the primary source of customers comes from amateur photographers.
How did the company start, and what's your background?
Anderson Schoenrock: I founded the company with Mike Mothner. He and I are longtime college friends. We are very like-minded business people, and had in mind that at some point we would like to venture into business together. Obviously, that takes the right idea, at the right time. ScanDigital came about a little over a year ago, and was an idea spawned from Mike and interaction with his family at Christmastime. He'd give his mom a digital camera, who told him it was her favorite gift this year. But, she asked him--how about all the old photos in the garage, what do I do with those? I think she was expecting him to have a quick answer, since he's operating in the online and technology world, but he didn't have a good answer. Thinking about it, he said--hey, if this is an issue my mom's having, I imagine that there must be other with the same problem. He asked me what I thought, and it snowballed from there. The next thing we new, it we'd hired some programmers to build a site and got the ball rolling. That's how it all came about.
Seems like this could be very labor intensive--how are you managing that?
Anderson Schoenrock: It is a very labor intensive process. We process everything in our facility in Los Angeles, and we're receiving orders from all over the country. We also take international orders. Everything comes here to our central facility, to optimize our equipment use. We've made some pretty heavy capital investments in the equipment we're using. We've got scanners and editors here processing orders. We find that having everything out of a central facility not only helps manage our workflow and labor and equipment, but it's the most secure way to do this. People are sending us their one-of-a-kind photos, and having one central facility to coordinate and control and secure that is very central to our business strategy.
How do you intend to get a good hold on this market? There seem to be a lot of small mom-and-pop shops who are trying to do this too.
Anderson Schoenrock: There are smaller local mom and pop type shops. It's very expensive going to those places, because the equipment cost is very high, and they're not doing the volume, so it's hard to get price points down. Because we're out of a central facility, and marketing our services to do this for a national audience, we're able to achieve much lower price points versus the mom and pop competitors. The other thing we're able to do, and which differentiates us, is because we're doing a much higher volume, we're able to achieve much higher quality. We are processing thousands of images a day, and we produce a higher quality of image in editing and scanning.
Is there any competition from the bigger companies in the photo area?.
Anderson Schoenrock: There are a few players that are more online sort of businesses, actively out there marketing their services on a nationwide basis. We're striving to be the highest quality provider, with the fastest turnaround time. We're the only provider in the marketplace providing an online gallery to people as part of their order, which is a huge advantage. Not only do you have your images digital archived for the long term, but it's in a place where you can immediately begin sharing and enjoying your images in the digital age. What this business is really about is for the people.
How big is operation now?
Anderson Schoenrock: We've got twenty two employees on the payroll. We launched the business to the public in June, so we've grown from 3 people in June to 22 in February. It's a rapid growth trajectory.
What's next for you, in the next year or so?
Anderson Schoenrock: Our biggest challenge is getting the word out. Once people find out our service exists, we find lots of people need it. Our push for the next twelve months is marketing and PR and getting the word out about our service. Most people just don't think about it, but are aware it's something they'd like to do. They don't know how, besides scanning it themselves, which is prohibitive from a time standpoint because it takes so long to scan material. The challenge for us is to get the word out, and grow the business that way. We've also got our eye on quality, as we grow we want to maintain our quality level. We've found that's one of our biggest sources of new business, which is our current customer base. Word of mouth is huge for us, and we want to maintain a high level of quality.