Vitaly M. Golomb is taking on a decidedly unsexy incumbent market: the printing industry. While the rest of us are ebooks this and PDFs that, millions of dollars are changing hands in order to print out signs, brochures, and other collateral. But that world of offsets and ink is still primitive, which is why Golomb built Keen.
“Keen capitalizes on the fast growing web-to-print market that is already measured at $141 billion of the total $640 billion print market and growing. The industry includes everything from business cards and brochures to posters and car wraps to apparel and packaging. Almost that entire business is highly time sensitive and therefore is driven by the hundreds of thousands of local shops – shipping is very expensive,” said Golomb. His company, then, offers back-end tools so small print shops can easily bring their services to the web. Because current third-party solutions like shopping carts can’t take on the complexity of a print job and because current CRM systems for print shops are either non-networked, difficult to use, or just expensive, Keen is in the cat bird seat.
“Keen was a spin-out project from my design firm. We originally started building a tool to manage our print brokering business and realized how much of a need this was for the massive industry,” said Golomb. A serial entrepreneur and 500 Startups mentor, Golomb saw a hole in the market and filled it.
The company raised $925,000 in 2012 and now they’ve announced a Series A with 500 Startups, IDG-Accel, and some angels. The total funding will reach about $3 million. They will use the money to offer new services to print buyers and consumers as well as improve their design platform for print shops. The company has headquarters in San Mateo and does some work in the Ukraine.
While not everyone needs a 10-foot banner featuring 30 cute kittens eating salmon printed at 4am (true story!), many folks do, and it’s interesting that Keen has made its money by fitting into that very specific niche.