From a small square that hangs from a wall near the bar, Little Havana in Federal Hill recently got a new device that can help its patrons have fun and market the bar.
After taking a photo, it offers an option to send a text. On your phone, the picture comes with a text that reads, “Thanks for visiting Little Havana! Be sure to tag us on social media @littlehavanabaltimore.”
It’s one of the early spots around town where the WallPixi has been making early appearances. For the creators of the device at Pixilated, it also represents where the five-year-old company is going.
After establishing itself around Baltimore as an events photobooth company (its cofounders also spearheaded Startup Soiree), Pixilated entered a new phase this year as it set out to develop software to run the camera systems that provide all of the fun.
While that meant a new focus for cofounders Patrick Rife and Nic China as well as the introduction of tech talent at the company’s Morrell Park HQ, the change has come with a new step for the hardware, as well.
Working with the Open Works makerspace, Pixilated developed a wall-mounted photo kiosk. Called the WallPixi, it offers some new tech features and underscores the company’s move into companies on branding and marketing. There’s a touchscreen that takes photobooth-style pics with a brand’s logo, and the device’s software offers built-in options to share the photos via text and social media. Behind the scenes, it’s also collecting data that companies ultimately want to get in front of potential customers.
Another big shift is who it’s designed for. Powered by the software application, the WallPixi can be used by someone who works at a location where it’s housed. Previously, Pixilated’s photobooths had to be operated by the company’s team members.
“We wanted to make something that our customers that we could take out of a box and use,” China said.
Creating something that’s easy to use can be a challenge. In Pixilated’s case, the company has benefited from advances in photography technology that make the smaller unit possible. In designing it, the company sought to make sure that it takes great photos, and delivered marketing capabilities.
“We didn’t want it to be some intense marketing tool that is crazy archaic, and we didn’t want it to be an intricate photographer’s tool that used all the photography jargon and confused marketing people,” said Rife. “We wanted it to really be the essence of both of them, pulled as back as far as it could from a simplistic operations point of view without compromising the quality or the effectiveness.”
It’s already making appearances around town. Along with Little Havana’s, one was also slated for Crossbar in Federal Hill. They see potential opportunity with spots that have multiple locations.
“We’re really focused on product market fit, were really focused on figuring out why works and who it works for,” Rife said.
— The Startup Nest (@TheStartupNest) October 5, 2017
WallPixis have also been showing up in coworking spaces like Betamore and the Startup Nest, as well as a MakeOffices in Philly. There’s one at the Pandora ice rink in Inner Harbor, and a CrossFit in Federal Hill. It’s offered to spaces through licensing.
“With slight modifications this thing can have so many different applications,” Rife said.
It’s a new step, and the cofounders recognize there will be room to add more features, as well. Rife characterized it as “the first iteration of where our software is going.” The longtime events company is now taking on the characteristics of many tech startups, as they’ve been testing, collecting feedback and now deploying. That process will continue as they look toward more products, as well.
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