Artifact Uprising Brings Management Back to Denver
After acquisition in 2014, Denver startup reasserts its independence to invest in new and innovative products and services
Artifact Uprising creates tangible photo books, prints, and gifts for digital photos. Led by CEO Brad Kopitz the Denver-based company has recently undergone considerable growth and change. Read on to learn more:
Q. Give me a bit of background on Artifact Uprising? How has the company evolved and grown since launching in 2012?
Kopitz: Artifact Uprising was founded in 2012 by two professional photographers who realized their documented lives were sitting on their phones and computers with no true place to live. They decided to take their decade of photography experience to create printed photo goods with elevated quality, thoughtful design and responsibly sourced materials that would help people move photos “off your device, into your life.™”
Our initial product line included hardcover and softcover photo books featuring 100 percent recycled interior pages and a collection of wooden gift items handcrafted in Colorado with reclaimed Rocky Mountain beetle pine.
In the past five years, we have gone from a few people working out of a basement to our own office in downtown Denver with over 40 employees. We have also expanded our product offering to better serve our growing customer base with a line of premium Wall Art, a Wedding Collection and our best-selling, heirloom Layflat Album (which landed a coveted spot on Oprah’s Favorite Things list in 2014!). This year we’ve also expanded into new services, like Artifact Uprising Volumes which automatically turns mobile photos into an on-going book series.
We have experienced significant growth yet our roots remain the same. We don’t compromise on quality and that’s because we want to create products that are worthy of our customers’ life experiences. At the end of the day, we want to build great things with great people and we believe that doing good is more important than doing well - that’s why we show up every day, working to create a better company that truly stands for something in the minds of our customers.
- Is there any significance of the company being based in Colorado – How would you describe the industry (startup environment) you’re apart of here?
Being a company founded and based out of Colorado has had a huge impact on almost all aspects of our business, most notably our company culture and approach to sustainability. Anyone who has floated our rivers or skied a bluebird day would agree that these wild space inspire so much within us and are worth protecting. This is why we use reclaimed or recycled materials wherever possible and seek to leave the tiniest footprint. We also partner with various nonprofit organizations to support causes related to the environment - from planting trees to sending children to National Parks for the first time.
We are indebted to many local supporters who have offered us guidance along the way - from the Galvanize community where we had our earlier offices to our current advisors, Kevin McInerney, Chris Onan and Josh Scott, who have all led or started successful businesses in Colorado. The startup community in Denver feels like a family to us and we couldn't be where we are without the support it has given us along the way. With management back in Denver, we’re looking forward to rejoining that family and tapping into the Denver/Boulder community for new talent and opportunities as we expand our business.
- How has the company’s ownership structure shifted?
Our team was extremely excited about buying back the company and bringing ownership back to Denver. Artifact Uprising’s management team now owns the company, but this would not have been possible without Digital Fuel Capital and other capital partners. With this ownership structure and capital partners, we are now able to invest in new and innovative products and services to support our growing customer base.
- Can you provide for me some details on the VSCO acquisition? What did this achieve? How did it impact the management, operations, products/services growth or changes, and culture of the company?
The VSCO acquisition in December 2014 helped us scale our growth during a critical early stage of our business. In the past three years as a part of VSCO, we’ve increased revenue 5x and this year we will ship over 750,000 products to 180 countries. We have a strong working relationship with the VSCO team and we’ll continue to support one another as we grow independently.
- Why was now the right time and set of circumstances for AU to buy back ownership?
We’ve grown to 40 employees this year and built out our departments across engineering, marketing and operations. We have amazing talent in the team here in Denver and so much more to do; the company is well poised to pursue our next phase of growth independently. We have a strong and aggressive roadmap in place for the next three years and we are looking forward to embarking on this new chapter.
What’s to come for AU?
We all want to live more intentional lives. We all want to bring more meaning and connection to our daily lives, our relationships, and our homes. Our mission is to help people “honor that which is meaningful™”.
We will be working and investing in developing new products, services and technologies to help our customers achieve this goal. This means we will continue to create beautiful products to help people capture and record those experiences that matter most. We will also explore tools and services that can make it easy to document our lives and to connect with others over shared experiences. With so much of our documenting and connecting happening on our mobile phones, we are looking to the future of that that means and how we can bring meaningful to mobile. Our volumes service, which was built to seamlessly turn mobile photos into an on-going book series is our first step into this, and we look forward to developing more! .
In the short term, our team is busy preparing for the upcoming holiday season. We have a lot of exciting new products we’ll be rolling out over the next couple of months (so stay tuned!).
Customer service is and has always been a top priority for Artifact Uprising, so we’re bringing more people onto our support team to make sure we’re able to take care of each of our customers during this busy time of year.