Photo app startup TouchNote just turned a profit for the first time and is expanding to the US

 
Lynsey Barber
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Nine million postcards have been sent to date. (Source: TouchNote)

A London startup which lets you send a real-life postcard of holiday snaps from your phone has turned a profit for the first time and is expanding to the US.

Touchnote, founded in 2008 in Old Street, has grown revenue to £5.1m in 2016, up from £3.4m the year before and has now sent 9m postcards of people’s holiday pictures and memorable moments to date via the smartphone app.

It now plans to scale up operations in the US, where chief executive Oded Ran, a former executive for Microsoft's Windows Phone, will now be based.

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Chief product officer Dan Ziv who sold his restaurant booking app Uncover to US startup Velocity in 2015 will take over as managing director of the UK and rest of the world.

TouchNote's headquarters will remain in the UK where it has a 30 strong team including engineering and operations. However, the firm is looking across the pond to scale up and make a fresh marketing push.

Currently the UK is TouchNote's biggest market, accounting for more than half of sales. By the end of 2018 it envisions the US being the largest, but will continue growing globally. It prints postcards and greeting cards in the UK, US, Australia and Germany. It has recently expanded into canvases printed with photos and is promising more, as yet unnamed, products and features this year. It also uses algorithms to pick the best pictures from an album to print a box full of snaps.

The firm will now be "investing heavily to grow," Ran told CIty A.M.. "In 2016 we wanted to prove TouchNote is a growing and viable business, to show profit and then continue to scale."

It's currently backed by private investors to the tune of around £6m, but did not rule out further investment in future, though it is not actively looking at present.

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"We're still not at the stage that every person has received or sent [a postcard via TouchNote], or heard of it - that’s the goal

While the app, which recently underwent a re-brand, has been around for some time, Ran said there was "absolutely" no better time to be in the business of making digital life physical.

"Out of every 1,000 texts, WhatsApp messages and Facebook posts there’s going to be one worth remembering - and that’s what we’re there for," he said citing the rise of Polaroid style prints, vinyl and the popularity of physical over ebooks as a sign of people looking for a "more thoughtful way to communicate".

The firm's US expansion will be based out of Los Angeles, where startups are becoming increasingly attracted to. |Recently listed billion dollar firm Snapchat is based along Venice Beach and Dollar Shave Club, acquired by Unilever is in Santa Monica along with celebrity-backed meditation app Headspace.

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