Fracture, a digital “maker” startup offering an on-demand system for printing your photos on glass, has raised an additional $500,000 on top of its previous $1.5 million in outside funding, following a year that saw the company’s revenue double.
Though photo printing on glass is not new, the company has developed a proprietary UV-based digital photo-to-glass manufacturing process, which, as we’ve detailed before, allows the photos to last for at least three years in direct sunlight, or up to a decade with careful handling before any fading.
Based in Gainesville, Fla., (also home to Grooveshark), Fracture was founded in 2009 by University of Florida graduates, Abhi Lokesh and Alex Theodore. Lokesh’s background is in biology, but his passion for technology later found him working in an undergrad lab at the university focused on building calibration technology for the Mars Phoenix Lander mission. Theodore, meanwhile (who Lokesh calls the “MacGyver of our times”), has been an avid photographer since his pre-teen years and has a degree in chemical engineering.
Both founders had a desire to modernize photo-printing, drawn to the science and the technology behind building up their own manufacturing process from scratch. Explains Lokesh, “[photo printing on] glass had always been something that was very specialized, meant just for large-scale industrial purposes, and we looked at this giant vacuum that had left as far as a consumer photo opportunity — which is that printing framing has not changed in decades.”
Fracture didn’t really begin shipping product until later in 2010, says Lokesh. But while the startup has done very little marketing during this ramp-up period while it has been stress testing its manufacturing process, it pulled in $86,000 in gross revenue during its first year shipping, and this past year, it has grown that number to $700,000. The company ships on average 30-40 orders per day worldwide, at margins around 40 to 50 percent.
Fracture raised over half a million from friends and family in 2011, then in September 2011, received a $1 million commitment (convertible debt) with $530,000 as the initial disbursement from the Florida Opportunity Fund. Last May, the state’s Tamiami Angel Fund (TAFI) committed to $750,000 in funding, which the startup received $410,000 of initially.
Now, as of April 2013, TAFI upped its second half from $340,000 to $500,000, based on Fracture’s performance. Though TAFI tipped a couple of local papers about its investment, the company itself never officially confirmed TAFI’s new funding until now.
Fracture glass prints are available as portraits, landscapes or squares (which work well for Instagram photos) in a range of sizes, and they’re available as either wall or stand mounts. Pricing ranges from as low as $12 up to $125 for large portraits, and custom sizes are also available.
The company now has a team of 11 working at its 5,300-square-foot manufacturing, packaging and sales facility in downtown Gainesville. Now that Fracture has stabilized its production process, it’s ready to start pushing demand by using the new funding mainly for marketing purposes. Further down the road, the company will work on bringing its service to mobile via an app, and then later expanding to new materials, as well as offering different displaying techniques.