The Good Web talks to our CEO - Charlie Carpenter
KITE is an e-commerce platform specialising in personalised print with a core focus on creating and increasing revenue for app developers and businesses. KITE has established a proven track record within m-commerce and the digital print space - engaging with thousands of consumers and securing business partnerships with leading creative digital brands. We catch up with Charlie Carpenter, CEO & co-founder.
The concept for Kite developed... when my co-founders and I were working together at one of Europe's leading app agencies. Myself, Fionn and Deon (co-founders) have very different skill-sets, which we felt complimented each other.
Being immersed in the mobile world we noted the growing consumer demand to do more with smartphone images. In response to this developing trend, we developed Kite; we wanted to work with photography-focused apps and websites and provide them with a solution to turn customers' smartphone images onto physical prints and products.
After a successful funding round from New York Venture Capitalists, Black Ocean Group, the Kite platform was officially launched in July 2014.
Kite partners with existing app companies to embed our SDK, enabling their users to easily preview, order and print digital photos in a huge variety of ways. We then source the best print suppliers to provide customers with unique, personalised products on demand.
The biggest challenge is... We have two main challenges that work hand in hand with each other.
Integration process: Integrating Kite into an app is super simple. A developer can have it up and running in 15 minutes but getting companies to take the first step is the hardest thing.
Integration is not enough: Educating and supporting apps and companies about our integrated e-commerce solution and how we can help them effectively turn users into customers, is what sets us out from our competitors.
The average day is spent... I break my time down into the following categories (not necessarily in order)
45% Product development
20% Business development
15% Problem solving
10% Vision - what's next
The team consists of... Charlie Carpenter, CEO, Fionn Concannon, (Managing Director), Deon Botha (Head of Mobile), Tom Drake (CTO). We also have nine full time members of staff and three part-time.
My favourite quote... "If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late." - Reid Hoffman
I am where I am today because of... Trial and error. I launched my first boot strapped startup out of university, it was a huge failure but I learned many lessons from that phase of life. Going from there, I stepped into digital agency life where I embarked on a career in Mobile Delivery. Working in Mobile Delivery was great because I got to work with some awesome brands including ESPN, McDonald's, Lloyds Bank and Tesco. I always knew that I wanted to build my own products so irrespective of past failure, running my own business was always in the back of my mind.
I am who I am because of... My family. I came from a typical Asian family, that pushed us hard academically - only I wasn't overly academic. However, what I lacked academically, I made up for with entrepreneurial spirit. I learnt quickly how to turn £1 into £2.
I draw a lot of inspiration from my sister who also runs her own business in Australia which was recently acquired. She has a tenacious, transparent, honest yet direct way of conducting business which I just love.
The best advice I've been given... If you are going to tell someone there is a problem, be sure to also come with a solution.
In five years I'd like to be... Developing Kite to become the global-leader in bringing digital images to life, by continuing to partner with best-in-class apps and leading brands across the world. We believe print offers users a tangible way to cherish their moments, whilst adding a growing and sustainable revenue stream to businesses. Our goal is to be the gold standard print technology provider of choice.
The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online... It never gets easier, the challenges typically align with the size of your success.
Our biggest mistake and what it taught us... Getting distracted. Figure out quickly what the single most important thing in your business is and then focus on achieving that. Don't let anything shift your focus.
The most rewarding experience we've had to date... We are lucky to be in the business that when people receive their personalised product, they really love them because it's meaningful to them. The image they use has a sentimental context and we find that aspect extremely rewarding.