Pulling a fabric graphic printed by Larger Than Life Prints from a wall is easy and clean. The graphic has been removed without a tear. The wall remains unmarred, without a mark.
It’s a landlord’s dream.
The Old City-based company, founded by Kendall Schoenrock and business partner Carsten Petzold, provides the technology that allows users to submit their own high-resolution graphics and print them on one- to seven-foot fabric sheets that can easily be placed on a wall. Artists, too, are able to cash in on the action. By partnering with the site, they are able to price their works appropriately, and keep a portion of the sales after material and labor has been deducted by LTL.
Thought it may seem little like a technology startup, LTL is funded by Ben Franklin Technology Partners and has been active in Philadelphia’s and Silicon Valley’s technology communities.
Recently, the company announced a partnership with San Francisco-based Start SOMA to feature well-known artists organized by Start on one of LTL’s partner pages. The two companies have managed to nab art by Susan Kare, the graphic designer who created the original graphics and fonts for Macintosh computers, urban artist Justin Bua, Sugarluxe and a handful of other known artists.
Both have also launched a series of iPhone applications [iTunes link] featuring artist work as iPhone wallpaper graphics that can be quickly purchased as large wall prints from the LTL store.
The partnership was forged to supplement LTL’s already growing portfolio of wall prints, this time, with professional artwork.
“It’s high-profile, high quality content for our catalog, and we’ve taken that to the next level with a Start Mobile iPhone app,” Schoenrock says. “We’re attempting to enable consumers to buy high quality art from well-known, curated artists at an affordable price, printed on our unique removable material.”
Schoenrock says that sales have been “impressive,” though he declined to disclose specific figures. At least one artist, who offered a free wall graphic in a contest to their fans, received more than a thousand entries to win.
Last December, LTL Prints rolled out a more customizable upload tool, as Schoenrock explains below.
Start Mobile recently made headlines on TechCrunch when its iPhone app that contained Shepard Fairey’s famous Obama “Hope” poster art was rejected from Apple’s App Store. Surely, the TechCrunch press hasn’t hurt the company. LTL Prints, too, was featured on the popular technology site. The “pop” that LTL got from the feature was real, Schoenrock says.
“There’s a myth out there that TechCrunch readers don’t buy anything. I would say that’s not true in our case. [The TechCrunch push] was the perfect storm of a target audience that was really passionate about the things we were talking about.
Though Schoenrock says his company chose to send its product to the online publication free of charge, it was by no means a sponsored post. LTL has done business with TechCrunch in the past, when Michael Arrington & Co. purchased prints for one of their meetup events.
Schoenrock says that it is achieving its milestones with BFTP and has the new digs to prove it. LTL recently moved its production equipment out of a small Center City-based apartment to a larger 2,000 square foot facility in Old City.
Fortunately, it’s a small setup: the company owns a single 1440 dpi 6-color printer with eco-solvent inks that prints on a removable fabric. A laser-guided blade cuts the prints. It’s slick in a demonstration with Technically Philly, Schoenrock showed how quickly and quietly the device can make and cut prints with efficiency and precision.
But how did a wall graphic printing company get hooked up with TechCrunch? And why does it have such strong roots in Philly’s technology community?
Perhaps it’s the company founders’ backgrounds.
Schoenrock graduated from Villanova in 2003 and joined ePrivacy Group, a consulting and anti-spam tech firm, members of which spun off to create TurnTide, a First Round Capital-funded investment based in Conshohocken that was acquired by Symantec in 2004, six months after inception, for $28 million in cash.
Schoenrock was an angel investor in TurnTide.
“It’s hard to articulate how amazing that experience was. I bought a little red sports car and went to Villanova for an MBA,” he says.
Wanting to get back into technology after graduating with his master’s, Schoenrock hooked up with Petzold, a German entrepreneur and founder of Spreadshirt, a global leader in custom apparel Web sites like Cafepress and Zazzle, who has grown the business to do sales in the low two-digit millions.
They decided on custom wall graphics, which wasn’t too off the Spreadshirt business model, but unique enough to stand alone.
A pivotal question remained: whether or not the company would launch in New York or Philadelphia. Schoenrock convinced Petzold to settle down in Philly, reminding him of his relationships in the angel investing community and Philly’s resources and workers.
“Philadelphia has been absolutely great,” Schoenrock says.