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The world has been introduced to the latest in appcessory technology: LifePrint. Uniting our love for the iPhone, taking pictures, social media and beyond, LifePrint reintroduces us to one of the most innate of all human needs: connection.
The brain child of Robert Macauley, a 2008 graduate of the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy, “The idea was born out of a study I read 3 years ago saying that the iPhone had surpassed all other digital cameras as the world’s most popular camera. In hearing this information, I looked for ways that iPhone photography was being monetized and realized that printing was not one of them. It just felt right to go after that space.”
More than another medium to further foster social media’s on-going obsession with the ‘selfie’, LifePrint reaches out to every individual. Sweeping aside any specific demographics and crossing all age-gaps because, ultimately, be you a college student, grandparent living miles away, or spouse stationed across the Globe…the ability to touch, truly HOLD an image of the person held most dear to you, THAT is what we all cherish most in life. THAT aspect of speaking to a person’s heart and bringing the emotions of life off the screen and into the physical is the foundation of LifePrint.
As LifePrint officially launches its Kickstarter campaign, we took some time to speak with Robert Macauley about his revolutionary new appcessory, the road that’s gotten him to today, and his greatest advice to all entrepreneurs.
1) Tell us about LifePrint! What is the device and what is the mission for your business?
The device is a mobile printer “Appcessory” for iPhone. “Appcessory” is a term coined by Apple that describes a piece of hardware (a light bulb, a headphone, a speaker, or a photo printer in our case) and ties that piece of hardware together with an iPhone app. It’s all about enhancing the accessory through the app, thus the term “appcessory”.
The mission of LifePrint is to help people recapture the magic of holding photos in their hands again. Digital photographs have marginalized the importance of photos and just how powerful those memories can be. We want to give people the chance to recapture that true nostalgia that only real photographs can provide.
2) Today’s world is all about sharing and being social; how does LifePrint fit into that, who do you define as your target audience, and what sets you apart from anything else currently on the market?
LifePrint itself is a social product. It was very intentionally designed to be more than just a photo printer that allows you to print from your iPhone. But it’s a social platform that lets people print and share physical photos in a way they’ve never been able to do before. Think of it like a physical version of Instagram.
Target audience is mostly High School and College students, though anyone that takes photos with their iPhone is considered a potential customer (so in this case, pretty much all iPhone owners).
What makes us different is our simplicity and our App. No other photo printer exists today that can easily print and share photos across smart devices. The App allowing for photo editing and sharing across the world is truly a unique differentiator.
3) Tell us a bit about yourself and the LifePrint business team. What are your different backgrounds, how did you come up with the idea, and what motivated you guys to get serious and put LifePrint into action?
I am a graduate of the SEA class of 2007-2008 and have been working in startups for most of my career. My background is entirely in consumer electronics and accessories in the Apple space. My main role in the past has been working for companies and finding gaps in the accessory markets for companies to exploit and grow market share. My business partner has an extremely extensive background in Sales. He was former VP of Sales for Creative Labs. We have a number of private contractors on our team who also help with design and app development, we will hire full time positions for these roles once Kickstarter is finished.
The idea was born out of a study I read 3 years ago saying that the iPhone had surpassed all other digital cameras as the world’s most popular camera. In hearing this information, I looked for ways that iPhone photography was being monetized and realized that printing was not one of them. It just felt right to go after that space.
4) What has your startup road looked like, can you share some on the process?
Lots of rejection and people saying they’re not interested. It took a lot of convincing of my team to get them excited about this project. In fact, I pitched this as an “Intrapreneurship” concept when I was at Belkin and they rejected the idea. I felt so strongly about it that it was one of the reasons I left the company.
5) You are currently working to gain funding to put LifePrint into full production. How did you decide on Kickstarter and what has that process been like?
Kickstarter is very friendly for Consumer Electronic products and a great way to prove out a business idea and raise funding without giving away any equity. It seemed like a very natural fit to us.
6) You graduated from the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy as a member of our 2008 class. What are some of the most valuable lessons and skills you took away from that experience? How have you applied them to LifePrint?
The most valuable lesson I learned from SEA hands down was to learn how to network and believe in your ideas. Other skills, like how to build a cash flow or write a business plan are of course critical, but the main thing I learned and took with me is how to network and take criticism in stride. It’s really important to not give up on an idea just because a few people in positions more powerful than you don’t agree. Listen to feedback and look at your own ideas critically to improve them, but at the end of the day, you need to be really sure you believe in what you’re doing. The rest is just overcoming obstacles.
7) What have been some learning experiences in taking the business startup concept into real-life with LifePrint? Were there any surprises along the way, and how did you roll with the punches?
My biggest lesson is to think critically and often about your product. Of course there’s going to be lots of surprises along the way and I’ve definitely had my share, the main thing is to feel comfortable saying to people: “I need a day to think about this,” there’s going to be lots of curveballs thrown your way in trying to start a company, don’t be too hasty with any decisions, but certainly don’t be too timid either.
8) What are some words of advice you would give to our current SEA class and anyone else starting on the road of entrepreneurship
Meet lots of smart people and get to know them well. If you build the right network, you’re never more than once or twice removed from the person who might hold the key to your success. The best advice I ever heard for networking was “be interested and be interesting.” Expand your horizons beyond just your business passion. Develop a well-rounded and likable personality that people will gravitate to and in turn, be genuinely interested in the people you meet. Don’t fake it just for networking, people can tell when you’re being fake, but if you are genuinely interested in what people have to say and have something interesting to say about the topic in return, you’d be surprised at how many people you’ll meet and friendships you’ll have.
With the launch of LifePrint’s Kickstarter campaign, Robert and his team are eagerly anticipating when they may finally start shipping the appcessory they’ve been so tirelessly working on for years, across the United States…and into the hands to us, the photo-obsessed.
Thank you very much to Robert Macauley for taking the time to speak with us. Head right over to the LifePrint Website, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter…and most importantly, support them on Kickstarter!
Take your business startup idea and write an effective business plan and enroll with The Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy.