Co-founder Laurent Martin holding one of the faded photo albums he tore all his hair out trying to scan.
This company started, oddly enough, at a funeral.
Many years ago, one of our co-founders, Laurent, had to travel back to Switzerland to attend the funeral of his grandfather. Every family seems to have a family archivist, and among his many gifts, Laurent's grandfather was an enthusiastic photographer, who left behind countless Agfacolor prints, slides and negatives.
As the engineer in the family, Laurent volunteered to scan in all those old photographs so that they could be shared with the extended family, who are scattered all over the world. Many of these photos, in fact, had been forgotten altogether, and Laurent thought it would be a great tribute to his grandfather to make sure the next generation had these memories easily available.
So at least it started well. Laurent promptly got home, spent $800 on equipment, and began his project. For the next 6 straight weekends, he had to wrestle with scanning, choosing resolutions, re-scanning, cropping, rotating, color correction, and all the other things that people who truly care about preserving memories need to wrestle with. And that was just for the first images — it turns out that he had 28,000 more to go! (We like to joke that it was at this point that he tore out all his hair).
Fortunately, Laurent was also attending business school at the time with our other co-founders, Sam Allen and Naren Dubey. He shared his frustrations with them and together they decided there had to be a better way. The essential problem: how to deliver the high quality that only craftsmanship and manual processing can bring to scanning, but at an affordable price. That required finding a labor force that fit those two bills. After looking at a number of locations around the world, they decided to locate our scanning facility, now the world's largest, in Bangalore, India. Then, in a nod to their collective experience in computing and wafer fabrication, they started work immediately on getting the logistics, quality assurance, and workflow systems right, so that we could ensure quality and safety for every order.
A solid year of work and planning later, the first order was completed, safely and accurately, by hand. Four years after that, we've expanded to handle both video tapes and movie film, with the same attention to quality and safety.
And Laurent's grandfather's photos? We fixed those up just fine. But so far, we haven't figured out what to do about Laurent's hair.
0 Number of business school colleagues of Sam, Laurent, and Naren who thought the ScanCafe business would work.
"I have done a lot of scanning in past years and it has taken me months upon months to achieve the professional results that you gave me in a few weeks. I am so grateful for this timely and cost-effective service."
- J. Adams, Orem UT (Sept 2007)
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