Russ: Welcome back to The BusinessMakers Show, my guest today Frank Hood, Founder and CEO of InfoVine; Frank, welcome to The BusinessMakers.
Frank: Thank you Russ.
Russ: You bet. Tell us about InfoVine.
Frank: InfoVine is about 15 years old. As is the case with most businesses we certainly didn’t end up where we started out. We are converting an old dying industry into an industry of technology which printing and very focused marketing applications and doing a lot of that actually.
Russ: So this is not your grandfather’s printing shop, right?
Frank: No, or my grandmother’s.
Russ: All right, good, good. So I’ve taken a tour in the back and I’m always impressed, describe first maybe an upper end job that you would do here at InfoVine.
Frank: Well it’s a – it basically comes down to marketing strategy and you market for acquisition – finding new patrons, new customers, new donors. And so a better way to do that today using technology is by using data that lets us know who the ideal customer is, and focusing the print effort, on those targets. You can look at our company as the area between the data segment and the print segment. So we’re the marriage of both of those two things; if they’re circles overlapping each other for instance that’s where we would fit. In the old days it would be mainly focused on geographic areas, so if you were opening a beauty salon for instance you would go a 10 minute drive distance from that and just spray and pray; we don’t do that anymore.
Russ: Spray and pray, ok.
Frank: It’s not economically viable anymore and so by looking at an existing database of data from – from your business we can put markers on that and go out and look for more of those people.
Russ: Okay, and, I mean that makes a lot of sense now when we’re here at 2016 and the way we look at our incoming mail a little bit differently but you also have the ability in huge scale color printers to print custom pieces of information on each page, right?
Frank: Absolutely. The message can change, the photographs can change, the color can even change all in one press run and at commercial speed.
Russ: Ok, real interesting. You know there’s kind of – kind of two data things that take place. First, what you’re talking about which is care and targeting who you mail to, but secondly what you print on the printed page. I mean, you know there’s some people I assume that just want the data and it’s not a custom piece and there’s others that have a lot of custom actually in the paper product itself.
Frank: Absolutely and it’s total – and when I say it’s customized it really is driven by the type of business, it’s driven by what level of data they have, by how much demographic or psychographic data can be mined from their data. But it can also be just short run things because in the – in the digital world there’s no plating, there’s no setup, there’s – there is, uh, no time for all of that, it’s just basically straight out of the machine.
Russ: Okay, but in all of this it must be the setup – the data setup must be instrumental.
Frank: The data is the – is the 800lb gorilla for most people. They’re very leery of what to do with it. We process data from every source imaginable. So our guys that do data here are familiar with all kinds of ways that it’s kept, from very simple ways to very complex, having to filter the heck out of it to get what you want.
Russ: Tell me about a project that you think is very representative of the capabilities here.
Frank: Well a couple of recent projects come to mind that are very much representative of the differentiation that we’ve got here. And one is for an emergency clinic organization that’s opening offices statewide. We have printed over a million postcards to people showing driving directions on the fly – the map is generated on demand.
Russ: You mean driving directions from their house? Wow.
Frank: From their house to the nearest clinic. That’s one example, the other is when Despair Inc switched to a bigger format – Despair Inc, yeah – and they came to us because we have the largest available sheet size in digital press.
Russ: Larger format for their posters?
Frank: Calendars. You’ve got to just look up Despair Inc, but it’s a take off on all of these motivational posters.
Russ: We’ve had them on the show, yes, that’s great – and fans of what they do.
Frank: So what that gives them is a real calendar size that’s created with an app by their Buyers and it drops straight into our press queue and we fulfill it.
Russ: Does it have variable information in it?
Frank: It does. The images and the data are picked by the user and they can drop in any kind of data that they want on the calendar cells.
Russ: Okay, so the user – we’re talking about the Despair Inc customer buying the calendar, says hey, here’s my birthday and it prints those.
Frank: It puts them, I mean anniversaries, whatever, if you choose to do it it goes onto the calendar when the calendar’s printed.
Russ: Okay, so you mentioned differentiation, these two projects were good examples, but how does that work kind of in the shop here? What really differentiates you and makes you capable of doing those?
Frank: It is the ability to take complex data and, targeted data that will drive increased marketing capabilities and manipulating that data to print something that is compelling and is digitally produced and on the sheet size that you only get in the Indigo 10,000.
Russ: So the Indigo 10,000 is also part of your differentiation.
Frank: Yep, absolutely.
Russ: Well that’s good. When the tour that we went on is extremely impressive, uh, just describe some of those pieces of equipment that are back there; the real big digital printers.
Frank: Well that’s the – that’s really the – the sweet spot for us; that’s the differentiator from most print shops is to have an indigo sheet fed press that’s 20 x 29 inches. We’re actually the only one in Houston, the second one in Texas.
Russ: Meaning you can print on 20 x 29 inches, coming out of there customized, in color, pretty fast?
Frank: Uh, finished. I mean it prints two sides at once – it delivers front and back side, it also can have every pixel change of every sheet on every side at production speeds. Um, so to do that there’s a lot of processing power behind it – there’s Rip – image Rips that have to go on to make that happen – but it really cuts a huge amount of the overhead in waiting on all the other process steps in offset printing to take place, so it’s not quite as simple as this but when they send – when our pre=press folks send a file to that printer it’s minutes before it can go onto paper. I mean not hours and it’s not drying and it’s not all these other things that happen with offset.
Russ: Okay, but you also do offset?
Frank: We do offset and we use Indigo equipment because it feathers very, very well with traditional offset; in fact, you can’t tell the difference. So we can embed – for instance in a static magazine we can embed a sheet that’s printed on the digital press that has seeding data in a renewal from for instance, it has suggested donation data, all of the stuff into an offset job because you can’t tell the difference between those Indigo quality and offset.
Russ: Very impressive. So it seems to me that maybe a challenge in – in this business is taking this very sophisticated capability to market with and to explain that to a customer that’s used to buying – what did you call it a while ago, spray and pray?
Frank: Spray and pray, which is going to get me in trouble I’m sure.
Russ: Well that’s okay, but I mean somebody who’s just been doing direct marketing with a printer, we’ve got the address and here it goes and you have all this capability, I mean just explain that to them could be a challenge.
Frank: It is a challenge and the challenge – the real challenge in trying to sell the technology is all of the applications that can be derived from it and it’s not a commodity at all. And it has so many advantages in so many areas that, um, that’s our challenge.
Russ: So many advantages that they ought to be using it.
Frank: Exactly, and we can show examples all day but it may not be their example.
Russ: Okay, really interesting. Say somebody’s watching us, they got it here today and want to track you down, what’s your web address?
Russ: Cool, well Frank I really appreciate you sharing your story with us, it’s fascinating.
Frank: Thank you very much.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Frank Hood, the Founder and CEO of InfoVine and this is The BusinessMakers Show.
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