This week on The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, Wes speaks with Abhi Lokesh, CEO and Co-Founder of Fracture, an innovative company that takes your photos and prints them onto glass. Fracture was founded in 2009 but found minimal success until a strategic marketing hire helped catapult the company into profitability. This year, Fracture is on track to generate $20M in revenue by year-end — incredible, considering the company first broke even just 5 years ago. Fracture’s growth has landed the company on the Inc. 5000 list and boasts a 3-year growth rate of 282 percent.
Abhi Lokesh understands that sometimes the best ideas are rooted in the most simple concepts, and there are few things more simple than the human desire to capture life’s moments. With the birth of smartphones, taking pictures has become even more a part of everyday life; however, printing those pictures has taken the backseat. On the podcast, Abhi discusses the story of how he sought to build a business, reinventing the concept of picture printing with his own unique spin, and shares some thoughts around playing the long game, living up to family expectations, the value of good marketing, and much more.
The EnTRUEpreneurship Takeaway:
“One of the things that we really appreciated about Apple and were so inspired by is how they took control of every element of their experience… We wanted to do the same thing. We weren’t satisfied with just marketing the product. We wanted to build the product on our own."
“[Prior to our most successful years], we had hired people that looked like us — were young, were rookies at this. We felt like these were people we could enjoy being around. But that’s not what it takes to running a company. You need people who have experience. Who have the professional know-how in their various domains."
“We always just felt like success was around the corner. We were very good at convincing ourselves that we just needed to do one more thing [to experience lots of success]. It was sort of a positive self-delusion."
“I was seduced by what the conventional metrics of success were for the first startup, and they did not include profitability or free cash flow… After a while, the Kool Aid ran out for me. I realized that we couldn’t hold ourselves to the same metrics because we were a fundamentally different company than a Facebook or a Twitter.”
“Understand the value of patience. There’s no such thing as overnight success. Don’t ever believe it when someone says, ‘One day I had nothing, and the next day I had everything.’ There’s far more to it than that… Build your own timeline, and don’t rely on the timelines of others."
“The first couple of years were really tough. It was primarily because I honestly had no idea what I was doing… It was such a trial-by-fire experience. I felt like I was constantly being told what I was doing wrong by all of my mistakes."
“[Going to Swaziland] was such a surreal, seminole experience for me, to really get detached from everything I’d known and just think and talk out loud and ponder the question of, ‘What do I want to do with my life?’"
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
2:53: Abhi discusses his family dynamics, including the pressure he felt to succeed and the unique perspective he gained from having grown up all over the world.
6:23: Lokesh reflects on how he slowly convinced his parents that entrepreneurship held a future for him and tells the story of how Fracture was formed.
14:40: Abhi explains how his company eventually got funding — no small feat in the heart of the Great Recession.
18:27: Abhi reveals how long it took his company to break even, which flew in the face of his early dreams of fast success.
22:02: Lokesh describes additional funding his company secured and how those dollars were spent to grow his business.
24:13: Lokesh discusses how keeping a positive outlook on his business — that success was around every corner — helped push through the difficult years.
26:24: Abhi explains the turning point in 2014, where his company moved from break-even to rapid growth.
27:55: Lokesh reveals the surprising medium that’s most led to his company finding massive amounts of new customers.
34:23: Abhi discusses what’s next for Fracture, which involves remaining true to its original mission.
35:38: Abhi shares some final advice around playing the long game and not getting trapped in the lie of instant success.
Bullet List of Resources –