Money, jobs from old memories - NZ Herald, 4th April 2002

Herald02

"OLD AND NEW: Ian Handricks with the software he designed for photo restoration, which has been taken up by an American company, creating jobs here.",    

NZ Herald,
4th April 2002,


Money, jobs from old memories,

A taste for nostalgia and restoring old memories will soon be funding 100 new jobs and millions of dollars in overseas earnings for a small Auckland company. Glentield firm Photopages Global, which employs five people, specialises in the digital restoration of old damaged photos.

Thanks to the deep pockets and enthusiasm of three US-based venture capitalists, the Photopages name will soon be seen in photo shops and stores across North America.

In a deal announced yesterday by Trade New Zealand, consumers will soon be able take their old photos into any one of thousands of agents across Canada and the United States. They will then be digitally scanned, sent to New Zealand’s Photopages lab, where they will be restored using software developed by company founder and owner Ian Handricks.

This software automates a lot of the procedures normally done on old photos. Once restored, the picture is electronically sent back to the Photopages agent, where it is printed out onto photographic paper and given back to the customer. " Handricks said there was a growing gap in the photographic market "in the middle" between film-based photography and advanced digital methods.

Digital restoration of old printed photographs was one way of bridging this gap. Photo restoration in North America was something of a craft industry, with some operators taking weeks or months to do the job. Photopages promised an overnight service at a fixed price. It could colourise black and white photos and restore seriously damaged pictures that other operators could not.

Once the deal swings into operation, work volumes at Photopages are predicted to increase from the 25-30 photos being restored each day to several thousand. Handricks said the whole market of giving restored photos as presents was lying untapped in North America and Europe.

The deal has been structured so Handricks keeps all the intellectual property rights covering the software and technology used in the photo restoration business. As well as money, the US backers brought marketing and advertising expertise that would soon be taking the Photopages name to Europe as well.

Trade New Zealand said it had been working with PGL for the past two years, helping it to set up in Australia and the UK. Account manager Dominic Cavanagh said Trade NZ brought an American IT journalist to New Zealand last year, showing him several local IT firms.

This journalist "who became quite evangelical about what he saw" according to Trade NZ, then introduced Investment New Zealand, the Government’s investment promotion agency, to US investor Ed Bernstein, who then flew over here, met Handricks, and decided to invest.

Neither Trade NZ nor Handricks will say how much money is being invested by Bernstein and two other investors, though they stressed that advertising, marketing and distribution skills were being provided by the US investors. The deal with Photopages is a five-year arrangement, with a 10-year renewal provision.



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