BuildASign.com’s expansion into the consumer market with Printcopia

Dan Graham, CEO of BuildASign.com, photo courtesy of WeAreAustinTech.com

This morning, I spoke with Dan Graham, co-founder and CEO of BuildASign.com, about the Austin-based company’s expansion into the consumer market.
BuildASign.com, launched in 2005, makes signs, bumper stickers, magnets, banners and more for the business market. Realtors are chief among its customers. The privately held company expects to do $40 million in revenue this year, up from $30 million in 2011.
This week, BuildASign.com launched Printcopia using its internal resources to produce a home décor site focused on the consumer market.
“We really noticed a growing market in the home and consumer space,” Graham said.
Printcopia allows consumers to upload photos from their computer or other site like Facebook or Instagram and to convert those snapshots into artwork to put on a wall. That means it can be as easy as a few clicks of the mouse to create unique wall décor featuring pets, family, vacations and more.
Printcopia started “almost by accident” because BuildASign began to get requests for home décor products, Graham said.
“We looked at the market online,” and saw opportunity, he said. The core competencies of its BuildASign.com business complement the consumer space as well, he said. That means BuildASign.com can print all of the Printcopia products at its headquarters and warehouse in North Austin. It doesn’t need to hire additional staff or buy new equipment, he said.
As the site grows, Graham might add a team more focused exclusively on the consumer market but right now, they can handle the expansion with the existing staff of 230 employees.
“It’s an exciting time for the home décor space,” Graham said.
The home décor market is a multi-billion dollar market but consumers haven’t been able to print their own wall art and create other unique photo décor products online until recently.
“We are seeing a general market awareness grow rapidly,” Graham said. “This kind of website didn’t make any sense until a few years ago. It’s only recently that it has become mainstream.”
That’s because new technology has made printing and ordering the products less expensive online.
“The machines we print our home décor products on didn’t exist a year and a half ago” Graham said. “The ability to produce these products affordably didn’t’ exist.”
Printcopia competes with some other online competitors but by and large its biggest competition comes from local photographers and photography shops that charge four to six times what it would cost to purchase items from Printcopia, Graham said.
“The challenge that is facing the market right now is one of awareness,” Graham said. About 90 percent of the market still doesn’t know they can purchase photo home décor products online, he said.
Printcopia follows a similar path in educating consumers as BuildASign.com did in educating businesses about the ability to order print products online cheaper and faster than traditional brick and mortar outlets, Graham said.
So far, consumers have reacted positively to the Printcopia products, Graham said.
“Customers light up when they see the finished product,” he said. “Repeat business is a big part of the business.”

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