WUFT News

Glass-Mounted Photo Company Transforms Printing Standards

By on March 22nd, 2014
WUF

Kathryn Varn/ WUFT / WUFT News

CEO Abhi Lokesh works at his computer in the Fracture office, located at 112 SW Sixth Street in Gainesville. Behind him hang nine fractures by Nicky Barkla, a Fracture Marketplace artist.

For the founders of Fracture, success is relative.

The Gainesville-based, photo decor business hit the 50,000 order mark earlier this month. But creators Abhi Lokesh, 25, and Alex Theodore, 28, want to continue building on the foundation they established in 2009.

“Both of us acknowledge the milestone, but we’re hungry for more,” Lokesh said.

The pair started the business, which prints photographs on glass, after noticing the high number of pictures people take using their smartphones or digital cameras, and how they sometimes just stay on those devices, Lokesh said.

So far, the business has had a global reach to more than 70 countries, such as Japan, Australia and Malaysia. About 95 percent of orders come from customers outside of Florida, Lokesh said. In fact, the demand for the glass photos, called fractures, was so high during the holiday season that some were put on backorder.

Despite Fracture’s success, profits still fluctuate from month to month. This happens when business expenses outweigh sales profits. But, sustainability is a goal the duo are working towards.

The company’s office is located at 112 SW 6th Street, just a few blocks from UF’s campus and Downtown Gainesville. Inside, the floor plan is open with desks where employees type away on MacBooks and couches where Rajah, Lokesh’s yellow lab and Fracture’s endearingly named “head of security,” hangs out. The machine used to print the fractures buzzes behind a glass display in the middle of the office.

On the back wall, the company’s mission is painted in black: “To redefine how the world prints and displays its favorite images.”

For the business to continue this mission, Lokesh said the primary goal is to maintain sustainable profitability. As of now, the company doesn’t consistently turn over a profit.

To get there, Fracture is focusing on marketing. Other companies, like Walgreens and Shutterfly, have options to print photos on glass, but Fracture sets itself apart with the relationship it creates with customers.

Chief Marketing Officer Herb Jones came on board in October to lead the marketing charge.

Jones, 44, said he’s working on spreading awareness of the company through social media and the Fracture blog, which can be found on the company website.

“People just don’t know there’s a really cool, sleek, modern option for what’s been done for hundreds of years,” Jones said, sitting on one of the office sofas petting Rajah.

Jones uses the blog to establish a “fun voice,” he said. It contains posts with St. Patrick’s Day gift ideas, photography tips and artist interviews. The company will also utilize podcasts, videos and emails to strengthen the relationship with its customers.

“We want to reach out to people before they even want to print their pictures,” he said. “People buy from people they like.”

Venture capitalist and the UF College of Engineering’s Entrepreneur in Residence David Whitney said he isn’t surprised by the company’s success.

Whitney considers himself an investor who backs “jockeys, not horses.” The people running the business are the “jockeys,” and the “horses” are the technology or problem-solving solution.

“Abhi and Alex are terrific jockeys,” he said. “They’re very strong when it comes to keeping their focus on what their business is.”

Whitney believes that focus revolves around customer service. He said the company doesn’t interfere with the photographer’s image during the process, leaving the creativity and originality intact.

“Fracture is in the magic business. They take something as passe as a digital image and they transform it magically into something that ends up as a piece of art,” he said. “So you and I as customers of Fracture — we’re paying for that transformational magic.”


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