Apps like PopBooth have tried to capitalize on the nostalgia associated with photo booths, and digital photo booths have popped up at an increasing number of events over the last few years. New product Instaprint is trying to combine the popularity of photo-sharing app Instagram and the nostalgia of photo booths with a location-based photo booth that automatically prints Instagram photos tagged with specific locations or hashtags. The founders are attempting to raise $500,000 for the project on Kickstarter, and already have project backing from Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger.
Instaprint is built by the team behind Breakfast, a NYC-based company that creates products that combine the digital and physical worlds, and also works with clients as a digital agency. “It’s aiming to bring back the nostalgia to have a physical photo in your hands,” Breakfast co-founder Michael Lipton said in an interview about the Instaprint product. “To have a few highlights that remind you of a specific event – it’s refreshing.” The project was listed on Kickstarter on March 2 and so far 253 backers have put in over $65,000, with 53 days left to go. “We’re feeling really good about it. We’re on pace to exceed the goal [by the end of the funding period] as of today,” Lipton said. “That’s a great sign.”
The team at Breakfast built a prototype of the Instaprint before SXSW last year as a way to drum up interest for the company, and Lipton said it was a hit and that’s when he realized they could turn it into a business. They currently have 10 prototypes that they use for client events and rent out to brands, and they’ve used them at events including The Grammys, store openings and concerts. The devices still require someone from his team setting them up though, which Lipton says isn’t scaleable. “The point of the Kickstarter campaign is to get to the point where you just open the box and there’s a quick three-step instruction manual and that’s all you need to figure it out,” he said. “That jump in terms of development is massive.” He said they decided to list it on Kickstarter instead of raising traditional funding so they can figure out if the interest from consumers will translate into sales. “With Kickstarter what we want to do is verify that level of interest with a minimal downside of risk,” he said. “If people don’t want this thing we don’t do it.”
Once produced, the Instaprint device will connect to an Instaprint.me account via a Wi-fi network. Once connected, users can set up the devices to auto-print Instagram photos tied to a specific locations or hashtags (Instaprint leverages Instagram’s API). In addition to printing tagged photos, an online gallery is also created for each event or location. Lipton said that it will be important for users to set small location parameters, or use a unique hashtag so they don’t get inundated with photos. “You want to make sure you don’t cast too wide of a net,” he said.
The Instaprint uses inkless technology where all the color is pulled from the paper itself, eliminating the need for expensive ink cartridges. Lipton is currently finalizing a partnership with an inkless printing company, and once that’s in place they’ll be able to solidify the pricing for paper. He said their target price for paper is $12 for 30 sheets, and his only stipulation is that it’s “widely available and affordable.” They plan to either offer paper for sale through the Instaprint website, or through an “Amazon caliber” online retailer, or through both channels.
Lipton said if the Kickstarter funding doesn’t go through they’ll look at renting their current prototypes as an ongoing business model. “There might be room to continue to rent these out,” he said, and added that even if the funding does go through they’ll consider renting units out to brands and event organizers, which is an opportunity for companies to interact with attendees in a social way.
Several other companies have tried to make a business out of Instagram’s photo app – CanvasPop offers the ability to print Instagram photos to canvas, and Prinstagram prints Instagram photos on posters, stickers and books – and Instaprint could corner with events and brand promotion market, as opposed to those tools who primarily target consumers. And they also have the seal of approval from the Instagram team – Lipton said they approached them right from the start, and that beyond Krieger’s project backing “they’re aware of the project and they’ve been incredibly supportive.” The team will be at SXSW again this year, and says they’ll have the boxes set up at a variety of events.