When you look at photos that represent special moments in your life, what do you remember? Whether it is the sound of a babies heartbeat during an ultrasound or the yell of “Surprise” on your 50th birthday, a new business is giving you the opportunity to hear memories just as you see them.
Jennifer Furr wanted to capture a moment for her scrapbook but, at that time, there just wasn’t a product on the market that was suitable for what she wanted. Through that need Jenn found the drive she needed to create PictureThatSound. She left a full time job to start her business and now she is asking everyone, “What do your pictures say?”
Tell us a little about PictureThatSound.
PictureThatSound was founded to fill an unmet need in the US memory-keeping market – the ability to pair archival sound, paper, and images in one personalized project.
Each 5” x 7” PictureThatSound paper card features a creative but simple photo matte with a high-quality built-in recording device. The colorful card gives the memory keeper an inspirational starting point to record sound, add images, embellishments, and handwriting. The result? A unique family heirloom to be used in scrapbooks or as a stand-alone custom piece of art.
The card also features 20 seconds of recording time, archival-quality acid-free and lignin-free paper, an easy-slide battery tray for simple replacement and a pull-tab to prevent accidental over-recording. The archival paper, replaceable batteries, and high-quality memory chip ensure the card will last for generations.
What inspired it?
I remember being pregnant with my second child and wanting to capture the ultrasound image with the heartbeat sound in my scrapbook album. I’m also a fanatic for great paper. I thought about how much I’d love to have a product that combined all of those elements. Why not create it myself?
There are so many sounds that we take for granted, that we think we’ll always remember. Sometimes I close my eyes and picture a sound in my head, like my toddler’s giggle, my grandmother singing, or even my husband snoring. This need inspired me to create a product that allows you to capture a photo and an audio snapshot of that memory, all in one.
What designs are currently available?
PictureThatSound offers seven product choices featuring paper designs for special milestones: Pregnancy, boy, girl, birthday, performance, wedding, and any-occasion. Each package includes two cards, including a feature card with a design specific to the event and a simple, complementary design for any use.
How does the card work?
Visit the home page of the web site to see a demonstration on how to use the card: www.PictureThatSound.com. During product development, I wanted to ensure that the product is easy to use. The user simply presses the record button as she records 20 seconds of audio. She presses play to listen. If she’s happy with the recording, she’ll pull out the key on the left side to save the recording. Adding photos, handwriting, and other embellishments complete the project. When the batteries need replacing, maybe 10 years from now, the user pulls out the battery tray and replaces the three batteries without affecting the recording.
I wanted the Web site to be a resource for ideas and support. You’ll see a page specifically dedicated to those ideas, such as recording your baby’s ultrasound heartbeat, your toddler’s giggle, a marriage proposal, the best man’s toast, your grandma singing, your son’s piano recital, or your party guests yelling “surprise!” Customers will find that their suggestions and project photos are featured on the web site to inspire others.
What separates you from the competition?
Recording sound for memory keeping and gift giving continues to gain popularity. For example, recordable greeting cards can be found on most card shops; however, they are intended for short-term use, as the recording device and paper won’t last. PictureThatSound speaks to the lead memory-keeper in the family. Many of those women love to scrapbook. And, fun paper designs are a huge element to those scrapbooks. There are a few plastic recording devices intended for scrapbook use; however, PictureThatSound is the only product that incorporates the element of paper. As we hear from customers, we’ll continue to develop new paper designs that feature their ideas. For example, a customer requested a paper design with a pet theme. She wanted to record her cat’s meow for food.
In September 2008, I began working with a US importer to develop a prototype. During prototype development and numerous alterations, I researched how to start a small business. I enlisted the help of a mentor, interviewed numerous small business owners, and took free online courses offered by the Small Business Administration. Entrepreneur’s “Start Your Own Business” was instrumental in writing the business plan. By April of 2009, the business plan was complete. After presenting it to local banks, I received funding the next month and backing by the SBA. The next several months brought numerous product adjustments to functionality until the final product was approved in October. By then, the Web site was finalized including ecommerce functionality, the press campaign was underway, and additional marketing efforts began.
Today, PictureThatSound is taking advanced orders. The product will arrive to the US on January 8 and advanced orders will be fulfilled shortly after. And, we’ve begun development on a very exciting new technology that will be incorporated into the product’s next phase.
What are some of the lessons your business has taught you?
Passion breeds energy. If you’re excited and positive, you can do anything.
Eliminate doubt. If you doubt yourself, you cannot ask others to believe in your business.
Get help. Find a mentor. Hire experts. For example, I knew I couldn’t create a robust ecommerce site myself. And, I couldn’t imagine packing boxes in my garage when I could be working on the next product phase. Understand your core competency and hire out the rest.
Keep a pen and pad with you at all times, even beside your bed. Some of my best ideas came to me just before I fell asleep. When your mind is at rest, your creativity is on overdrive.
Any tips or tricks that have helped you balance your life as a mom and an entrepreneur?
I’m a believer in goal mapping. Before I made the official move from corporate employee to full-time entrepreneur, I wrote down my priorities including specific details like “work stops at 4pm when the school bus arrives.” Another reflected the lesson mentioned above about hiring experts. Many of us, in our head, know what balancing work and family means. However, writing down what it takes helps ensure it happens.
What advice would you like to offer fellow mompreneurs that are just getting started?
Read. The more you know, the greater your confidence.
Start slow, one step at a time. Complete just one thing on your list each day.
Write a business plan. Entrepreneur Magazine and SBA.gov are great resources.
Despite the current economy, loans are available. Learn about the banks in your area, fill any holes in your business plan, and walk in with any documentation that may be needed.
Trust your instincts. As any mom knows, our instincts are a great asset. You use them in the care of your family. Apply them to your business.