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Instagram Inspires New Startups

Picpack Instagram Fridge Magnets

Instagram, recently snapped up by Facebook for the nice round sum of 1 billion dollars and one of the biggest startups of recent years, is now inspiring several smaller startups who have come up with clever business ideas that make use of the Instagram platform.

A big part of the success of Instagram is the way it applies a retro, analogue feel to a new technology – it’s digital images with film filters applied.

Now companies like Picpack are taking the retro idea further and allowing users to make a physical, real-world print of their Instagram images. Nothing too sensational so far. But here’s the genius twist – the prints are fridge magnets.

Cleverly, Picpack prints are square with rounded corners, just like the digital originals. Each print is 2.28 inches in size and can be ordered in packs of twelve of your favorite images for €18 / $22, shipping included.

Why I like this idea

Given the enormous user-base Instagram has (the last user count I saw was 50 million with 5 million new accounts being added every week) and the low price point, this could be a good little business plan.

It’s potentially appealing to both non-professional photographers looking for a fun way to show off their best images, as well as being an interesting promotional tool for artists and creative types like interior designers who can use them to create memorable, conversation starting portfolios.

Ideas you can steal from this

Tapping into the user base of an already phenomenally popular business is a smart way to ride the wave created by another startup – you can coast along on their publicity and name and – if your idea is original enough – probably get some press.

Just don’t be cheesy. The secret is to do something surprising.

Offering posters made from Instagrams just doesn’t capture the imagination of potential buyers in the same way fridge magnets do.

The technical side for the non-technical

Online printing services can put a digital image on a huge variety of objects. As well the obvious stuff like t-shirts, posters and tote bags, prints can be added to phone cases, portable speakers for music players and USB memory sticks. And by no means is that an exhaustive list.

Even better, if you choose a print-on-demand (POD) service you don’t have to run the risk of ordering a large amount of stock and inventory that you can’t be sure you’ll sell. Instead, customer orders go to your print-on-demand service where the item is created at order time.

Some of the well-established companies in the market include Zazzle, Cafe Press and Printfection (who I can recommend because I’ve used them on a startup project of my own and found them to be pretty good).

Many POD companies offer a white label service (through something called an API) which means you can make the whole process appear to be part of your website, making you look like a big shot company.

You’d need to hire a programmer to use the API on your site but you could test the market without going to that expense by placing your customer orders manually at the start. Later, you could have a programmer create an automatic system once your marketing takes off, the orders really start rolling in and you can see your idea has legs.

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