Hi! I'm Dane Carlson, and welcome to the Business Opportunities Weblog. I've been publishing this website, by myself, and sometimes with the help of others for over twelve years now. You'll notice two things about this site right away:
If you’re the type of person who has picture frames filling up every inch of space on your walls and tables, Paul Sadowski has the perfect solution for you. It is called Picture Pages.
Just in case you don’t remember the business from when we featured it early last year, Picture Pages combines the functionality of photo albums with the beauty of a picture frame. Through the strategic use of magnets, each page stays in place until you flip it.
Paul recently answered a few questions about his product, and how it has changed since the last time we posted about it.
Tell us a little about Picture Pages.
Picture Pages is a simple way to let people interact with real photos at their own pace. We know there are electronic frames out there that will allow users to load photos and play a slide show, these were developed while we were developing our concept and we feel there are still enough people that like to feel and touch their old photos and lets face it we all have a fear that computers and such can lose images.
What inspired your product?
The Picture Pages idea came about after I lost my wife to cancer in February 1997, then a few years later I met my current wife Linda. Linda and my wife Carol both kept a lot of photos from everything, but I think Linda had more. Our daughter Suzie is a very beautiful girl and even finished in the top five on the reality show “The Bachelor” so you might imagine their were boxes and boxes of photos when Linda moved in. We were discussing putting them in albums and I argued that the time it takes to put them in albums makes no sense because the albums just get put away under the bed or in the closet. As the discussions continued we were getting ideas and I decided that the basement in our house had concrete walls and traditionally in Michigan a lot of us may put up paneling or drywall. I started think that if I did panels that were 2 feet wide by 4 feet tall I could display a year of each of our lives on each panel and display the panels throughout the basement if we could find a way to make these panels turn so they would be like a book. We started looking at home Depot, Lowes, Photography Stores, hardware stores, Sears, Walmart, and anywhere else we could think of for the panels and couldn’t find anything that would work. We were then watching TV and saw an invent tech commercial, I called invent tech and they said we could do a patent search for $99.00, so we decided that if we could find them for $99.00 it would be money well spent. Then they told us nothing like that existed anywhere in the world and the next step would cost about $9000.00, so we discussed it and said that we could retire early or work til we die. For the past six years we haven’t stopped trying to bring this product to market in various sizes and versions.
How does it work?
Quite simply, Picture Pages is a variation of a standard scrapbook or photo album, the cover has to be sized to fit properly in the frame and it also has to have metal embedded in it for the magnets to attract to the cover that becomes the back panel. Then there is a paper insert in each page that has a strong magnet embedded in it and lined up with the metal in the cover, so each time you turn a page it is attracted back to the other, that way you have 2 nicely displayed pages when you are done looking through the others.
In what ways has your business or product changed since we last wrote about it?
We were just finishing the version of the album we decided to call the “Perfect” album. We chose the name because everyone that was watching our development said this version was perfect. It became smaller the first version has 12″x12″ pages and the second has 8″x8″ pages. We decided the scrapbook market would really appreciate these and we were able to keep the retail price point at about $20.00 for the small and $30.00 for the large. The small one can actually be attached to a refrigerator with the use of 3M Command Strips. These can be viewed in the video section [on the Picture Pages website]. Then in July of 2010 we were contacted by A.J. Kubani’s company Telebrands and they licensed the idea and developed an even smaller version called “Flipster” I created the prototypes for them and they brought it to life. After six months they sent us a FedEx notification that they could not bring it to market for their own reasons. I do have a copy of the commercial they had ready, but I do not have rights to it or the name “Flipster” and they said they may do something later, but could not within the six month time frame they were untitled to. We now have other company’s looking at it again to see where our next hope comes from. We have been at it so long and the patents have us protected until 2025 we won’t stop trying, but I have slowed down on it and I went back to my previous position as a finance manager in an automobile dealership. I have over 30 years experience and I was fortunate enough to find employment within the first 2 weeks of making myself available.
What separates your business from the competition?
The thing that separates Picture Pages from any other photo displays is that, it is either a traditional album that stays out on display or instead of the electronic display that has a different look and feel than you have with traditional photos and it also costs much less than the electronic frames.
Ultimately, what type of person do you think would benefit the most from your unique picture frame?
People that will benefit from the frame are the people that are between 25 and 75 years old, mostly female, but actually anyone that has boxes of photos under their bed or in their closets. Now that Telebrands helped us find the way to manufacture the Flipster size young children and anyone looking for a gift for grandma and grandpa or mom and dad, maybe even son and daughter. When you can sell these for ten dollars most people can afford them and when you add photos they become priceless.
What are some goals that you’d like to accomplish before this time next year?
As you can imagine the letter from Telebrands devastated us at first, but we know that if we made it to their final cut and they invested as much time as they did we have a winner. The goal for this time next year is to have it in the stores and on TV meeting the volume demands that we have felt so far. We have sold over 1000 of the Perfect albums in the 8″x8″ and 12″x12″ sizes, but at the present time we are short on capital and can’t even replace the original inventory. The first thing on our agenda is for me to raise the capital through the car business unless the right investor steps in.
What are some lessons that your business has taught you?
The lessons learned over the past six years is first of all our first business coach told us to “plan for success, but prepare for failure”. Without those words we may have jumped off a bridge or slit our wrists by now, we also know that “persistence will overcome resistance” I know they are just 2 short corny phrases, but they have kept us sane enough over the past six years. We also have to look at the fact that while trying to market this product we have traveled to places we would have never gone and shared a lot of time together that nobody can take away. The biggest thing we ever tell anyone is make sure you and your spouse are both all in or you’ll never make it to your goal.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I think we summed most of it up above, but I will say if it’s not fun, don’t even try it, because it will consume you 24 hours a day if you have the real passion for what you are doing.
Do you have any advice that you’d like to offer fellow entrepreneurs that are just getting started?
Advice to anyone getting started is “PLAN FOR SUCCESS, PREPARE FOR FAILURE,” and “PERSISTENCE OVERCOMES RESISTANCE.”