Trillions of digital images are captured annually, yet fewer and fewer are being physically printed and displayed. When Abhi Lokesh and his business partner asked themselves why that was, they came to the realisation that it was mainly because there wasn’t an easy, affordable, modern way to print and frame digital photos.
So it was that they founded Fracture in 2009 – “the best way to get photos from your digital camera to your wall”.
STARTING THE BUSINESS
What makes Fracture so unique to the industry?
What makes our business unique to our industry is the simple fact that we do absolutely everything by ourselves, under one roof. We’re a fully vertically-integrated company. We take care of product prototyping, engineering, design, manufacturing, fulfilment, marketing, web development, customer support, etc. We really felt like if we were going to do this right and if we really wanted to do our vision justice, we needed to have control over each and every part of the equation.
What was the toughest challenge you faced when first starting out?
The toughest challenges were definitely recruiting and fundraising. The interesting part is that they are very intertwined with each other. As a hardware company building and selling a physical product, we are a capital intensive endeavour. We needed a significant amount of capital to purchase the equipment and build the infrastructure that we needed. However, capital is really hard to come by for first time founders with no experience and basically no team. Most investors are looking for a really experienced team with significant expertise in their domain, and we didn’t exactly check those boxes off. Recruiting was incredibly hard for us because while we had a lot of potential and promise, we had no traction to speak of, and we certainly couldn’t afford to pay anyone very much at all. It was a bit of a vicious cycle that we had to struggle to get out of.
What do you wish you’d known when first starting out that you had to learn the hard way?
I wish I’d known just how challenging marketing would be. We spent a number of years struggling to understand how to actually market our product. For the longest time, I just thought it was such a cool product that it would catch fire and grow virally…but that never happened. We kept learning more and more about consumer psychology and just how crowded the product landscape is for consumers. It’s really hard to try and capture the average person’s attention for long enough to actually engage with them about our product and convince them to give you a shot. Ultimately, we learnt so much about the most effective marketing channels out there and what you really need to invest in to get in front of the right audiences.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
What allows you to remain at the top of the industry?
I absolutely believe the most important element a company needs to have to remain at the top of the industry is a really strong, powerful, emotive brand. Consumers are getting smarter and smarter – they’re no longer going to fall for promotions or discounts. They want to see more about a company, what makes that company tick, what that company stands for, etc. Building that sort of brand reputation, presence, and loyalty is a significant investment and takes a long time.
How do you see the industry changing over the next 5-10 years?
I see the industry evolving to continuing to offer customers more personalised and customisable products to fit their decor needs. It all really depends on how consumers tastes change, but one thing I’m confident about is the fact that people worldwide will continue to want to print and display their favourite images – we just need to give them inspiring, creative outlets to do so.
How will Fracture prepare for and adapt to this change?
We have to always be on the cutting edge of everything – new products, a better customer experience, a more user-friendly website/ordering platform, etc. So in order for us to adapt, we have to keep pushing ourselves to be on the final frontier, developing new products, testing them with consumers, and essentially never settling.
What is your vision of ultimate success?
My vision of ultimate success basically comes down to this: when someone takes a fantastic/heartwarming/beautiful/touching photo and they are compelled to print and display it – their first thought should be “I want to Fracture that”. That’s how much we want to permeate the public conscience and become a part of how people live their modern lives.
From a company/employer perspective, our vision of ultimate success is creating a really diverse, fulfilling workplace that proves that manufacturing is alive and well in the 21st century. We want to combine the power of e-commerce and the beauty of manufacturing to create this amazing Digital Age company that actually builds something real and tangible.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who want to follow in your footsteps?
My biggest single piece of advice is to buckle up and get ready for a long journey. Nothing will happen overnight. Nothing will be instantaneous. Your ability to succeed will be directly correlated to just how long you can not just survive, but persevere and thrive in the face of complete and utter uncertainty.
Our thanks go to Abhi for taking part in this interview.
For more information on Fracture and its services, visit www.fractureme.com