Recently: A Popular New iPhone Photo App Exemplifies the Social Value of Print and Paper
Phil Riebel of Two Sides interviews Scott Valins, young entrepreneur and founder of "Recently"
In case you are not up to speed on the latest iPhone apps — here is one that really piqued my interest! It’s called "Recently" and it automatically creates a high-quality printed magazine with the most recent photos taken with an iPhone ... and mails it to you! Check it out at: www.getrecently.com
Two Sides (Phil Riebel): Scott, tell me a little bit about yourself and what led to the creation of "Recently."
Scott Valins: I’m a creative entrepreneur. Trained as an architect, I’ve always been fascinated with observing, documenting and understanding through drawing and photography. During my early professional years, I was very involved with the manifestation of architectural discourse through design, branding and animation projects. As desktop technology rapidly evolved, I dove headfirst into the technically robust industry of VFX and Animation by opening a boutique NY production studio that focused on design. The more digital my professional life became, it enforced the importance of print and 'analog.' I became obsessed with mobile photography when my daughter was born. It was the conundrum of taking 1,000s of photos a week on my iPhone that planted the seeds of "Recently" years ago.
Two Sides: Why did you feel that this was a good business idea that could grow?
Valins: As a life-long prosumer photographer, I’m in love with the mobile-photography revolution. However, I do think there are two inherent issues with it. First off, the sheer volume of photos taken has exploded and in conjunction so has the problem of simply organizing, curating and viewing them. The growth of photography and the accessibility of photography tools has been a huge boon for the art-form and consumers. However the tools to help users digest, manage and archive their content aren’t as simplified as the process of taking the photos themselves.
The second issue is that the process with which we view mobile photography is sterile. In an almost reflexive, habitual flick, tap or swipe — we view 100s of photos, but we really see very little. We’re unable to truly connect with the captured image, and therefore gain very little from viewing these wonderful moments. It was these two issues that we’ve set out to solve at "Recently."
Two Sides: How has business been going to date and are you satisfied with the progress?
Valins: Business is fantastic! We’ve grown and learned a massive amount over our first year. We’ve been able to connect with our fan-base and really finesse our software and process to be more seamless. We do, however, have a long way to go. We’re about to launch some revolutionary new functions and really begin to push industry boundaries.
Two Sides: What are your next steps?
Valins: You’ll be seeing our streamlined process become more automated and frictionless. We’ll continue expanding the technological process of variable data printing, as well as the function of a 'magazine' as an object.
Two Sides: In this increasingly digital society how do you view the benefits of print and paper, and how your customers are reacting to it?
Valins: Paper, and the process of viewing photography on paper is innately human. The way a person interacts with the printed page is beautifully complex and wonderfully expressive compared to a person viewing photos on a screen. It integrates the senses, prompts creative thought and begs for exploration. Our customers are loving it, as are we. The need for paper and printed content are just as essential now, if not more, then when they were the only form of visual communication.
Phil has over 28 years of international experience related to sustainability and the forest products industry. He currently leads Two Sides North America, a non-profit that promotes the unique sustainable features of print and paper, as well as their responsible production and use. Two Sides operates globally in five continents with members that span the entire graphic communication value chain. Phil has written extensively on sustainability and environmental topics related to the forest products sector. He received his Bachelor and Master's of Science degrees from McGill University in Montreal. He is a private forest owner and sustainably manages over 200 acres of forestland for both recreational and economic benefits.