An acquisition in the market can mean more than just another pair newlyweds, often it sends secondary signals out — both up and down a given vertical.
Case in point: a ripple effect that’s rolling through the digital photography industry after Shutterfly announced it would buy Eden Prairie based Lifetouch for ~$800m late last month.
Naturally designed to drive digitization in what’s still significantly an analog business for Lifetouch, a merger of the two will accelerate the distribution of Shutterfly’s online products among the vast audience for school photography. From yearbooks to the extracurricular affairs, Lifetouch has maintained a lock on the space for decades.
In that aftermath, local tech founder Jeff Eckerle is experiencing quite the boost of validation for his startup CaptureLife that’s focused on solving the same problem in the market for photographers and their people.
“It was clear that the market is moving that direction of digital for a while now, but since that happened, we’ve noticed a palpable change happening around us, everyone in industry is talking about it now our pipeline is absolutely overflowing these days.”
After all, he says, “Independent photography businesses still have more than half of the market and we have a proven solution for that majority in the same way that Lifetouch + Shutterfly intend to combine forces.”
And he should know, considering Eckerle was previously in a two year “relationship” with Lifetouch that wound down last summer. In retrospect, he describes walking away a wiser entrepreneur: “We gained an incredible about of industry knowledge and retained a lot of intellectual property coming off that.”
CaptureLife’s vision goes well beyond just the school-centric stuff, extending into into every aspect of a family’s photo storing and sharing needs.
“Our world view is just that. It’s all encompassing, as we are engineered for captures of all types, allowing photographers anywhere to plugin to the platform as a means of sharing and monetizing their services.”
He cites paying customers from some of the largest professional print labs with reach into the hundreds of thousands of independent photographers in their network.
These customers co-brand CaptureLife’s product and act as a middle-man between the photographers and their actual customers using CaptureLife’s web and mobile apps. Part of the product functionality also acts as a private photo-sharing service, among other features offered to drive end-user value and long term engagement.
CaptureLife has raised $380k since its mid-2015 inception and counts seven current employees.
“We’re taking advantage of the opportunity that sits in front of us by onboarding customers and scaling.”