The printer is dead. Long live the printer. Ink your best life
(7 months ago)
SAN FRANCISCO: Today, ink, the pioneering cloud-based, print platform announces USD 7M in new funding led by VTF Capital, SQN Ventures Partners, Invest Nebraska, and NE Angels. This brings its total funding to USD 15M. With this, ink will roll out its digital printing solutions to campuses nationwide.
Print is not evolving. Print is dead. Yet, it has been reborn and is a growing sector. The U.S. market recently reached $100 billion in annual revenue, and with more things becoming digitized, this number continues to grow as people continue to heavily rely on printed materials. It's not just books, magazines, and newspapers, it's photos people want to print directly from Instagram, and textbooks they'd prefer to have in physical form over stored on an e-reader. And today, people want this without the hassle of searching for a Kinkos, and waiting for their order.
"Today's students come to college with an average of seven smart devices-from phones and laptops to watches and music accessories. Though they are constantly connected, over 92 percent of students prefer print materials to using e-readers," explains ink CEO and co-founder, Jonathan Manzi. "Kindles and Kinkos won't cut it."
According to a recent survey of textbook makers, bookstore owners and college students, millennials still strongly prefer print for both pleasure and learning. This is largely due to the reader's tendency to skim on screens, which leads to distraction-students reported they were less likely to multitask with hard copy (1 percent) versus reading from a screen (90 percent). It's also well known that millennials prefer to print photos, labels, and textbooks-even to the e-books they get for free.
Ink is a cloud-based printing platform that removes the friction from common hardware solutions, and the absolute agony of traditional printing labs. Earlier this year, in stealth, ink tested its flagship product, the SmartStation, at Stanford University. The SmartStation is a sleekly designed, intelligent on-demand print station that runs off of the company's cloud-based portal where users can create print jobs remotely with one touch. The platform seamlessly integrates with everything including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and more.
With this validation, the company developed a stunning, touch screen hardware plug-in and a cloud-based operating system, which, together, transform any printer into a print shop. Called inkTouch, the plug-in bypasses expensive, cumbersome on-site solutions with proprietary print management software that seamlessly works with any printer model. Before this technology, in recent years, print integration was an almost insurmountable barrier for institutions as the rate new fonts and file type capabilities were released skyrocketed -- the third-party print management software couldn't keep up, and infuriating print errors became a fact of life. Ink translates all font or file format updates to the field, automatically, in real time. No more errors. Really.
At launch, users can go to any inkTouch, scan their documents and watch them appear in dazzling definition. From there, they can swipe through to view, rearrange and edit files. They can also sign a specific page with their fingertip, type in a recipient's mailing address, hit "send" and ink will sign, seal, deliver on their behalf.
"Ink is the Kinkos of the future," says Manzi. "When we looked at the market opportunity, we were amazed at how print, though the first industry to undergo a major transformation, hadn't really evolved since our parents were in school. How can we be talking about self-driving cars when we still don't have a modern printing solution? Now we do. And soon, we will have the modern bridge between the physical and digital worlds."
inkTouch will be available in 30 universities beginning in January, with additional campuses coming online in early Spring 2018. This marks the beginning of ink's vision to create integrated solutions for a connected world. Learn more at ink.me.