A venture that started out offering posters depicting your Facebook friends' profile pictures has now diversified to put social photos right in your mailbox — that's right, your actual mailbox.
It's hard to argue that the proliferation of social media has changed the way we take and share photos.
No longer do we order double prints at the 1-Hour Photo for our friends to have a copy of that trip to Yosemite. Now, we just tag them and we're done with it. No longer do we sit down with our children with a photo album and go through pages and pages of memories. Now, we just teach them how to swipe left and right on the iPhone.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's actually much easier. But does it give us the same connection with our photos? There are still plenty of folks who want to be able to enjoy their photos without the use of a battery.
That's where Social Print Studio comes in.
SPS is the San Francisco startup that specializes in turning your social media photos into high-quality prints that you can hang up on the wall, put in a photo album or just keep in a cigar box next to your bed.
Printstagram (for Instagram) and Blueprints (for Facebook) are two consumer-facing products that turn your photos into non-digital memories. Users connect their accounts to the service, quickly select their photos, pick their print products and then checkout.
And, based on usage numbers, there are still plenty of people who want that tactile connection with their photos.
"Based on the number of customers who celebrate the arrival of their prints, I would say that the magic of the physical artifact only holds stronger in our digital times," SPS founder Ben Lotan said.
Social Print Studio began back when Lotan was a student at UC San Diego. He was going through several culturally significant processes as part of his studies. One of those was going through the process of being a recruit into the U.S. Army. Another, and where this story really takes off, was going through the process of being an entrepreneur.
"I didn't want to just go through the process," Lotan said. "I wanted to start a company I actually wanted to work for."
That speaks to the inviting culture of the company, one that gives employees freedom to create, innovate and get their jobs done in their own ways. This, the employees say, has created a culture where success comes naturally.
Take employee Miles Jackler, who says the happiness of the employees is likely directly connected to happy customers. The product might have something to do with that as well, as does the customer service — a department which is headed up by Taymoor Jarrahi, a childhood friend of Lotan's. Thanks to his team, customers rarely have unanswered inquiries. In fact, the interview request for this article came from simply filling out the customer contact form on the SPS website.
Consumers aren't the only target of Social Print Studio. There's another arm of the business that works directly with other businesses to add innovative social image sharing (and printing) to many seminars, conferences and parties.
That's headed up by SPS co-founder George Sylvain, who had an interesting road to getting in on the ground floor of the company.
"I actually just answered a Craigslist ad," Sylvain said.
And from that ad to being co-founder of the company went Sylvain, whose products bring life to what might normally be just your typical company gathering.
The quick and dirty of it is that Sylvain's team enables conference-goers to take a photo with their phones, run it thought Instagram with a specific hashtag and that photo appears on a large interactive viewscreen and simultaneously prints out on a branded postcard for that photo-taker to come collect.