Popsa raises £3 million for development of artificial intelligence to automatically print your favourite photos
– Technology that actively compiles your ‘life story’ disrupting the traditional passive
business model in consumer print –
London, 26 March 2018 – Rapidly-growing startup Popsa, has raised £3 million as it looks to develop its artificial intelligence capabilities and extend its international reach.
Investors include consumer-focused fund Pembroke VCT, Silicon Valley accelerator 500 Startups, Octopus Investments, and Sir John Hegarty, co-founder of global advertising agency BBH.
Launched in March 2016 and based in London’s Soho, Popsa was founded by Liam Houghton with the aim of turning the traditional model of personalised print, which relies on customers manually creating their own photobooks and other prints, on its head.
Through a suite of bespoke algorithms, Popsa will soon be able to automatically select relevant photos on an individual’s device and create finished products based on significant events. So, time-poor individuals can build their family ‘life stories’ in a couple of taps.
The new funds will be used to expand Popsa’s Data Science and Machine Learning capabilities enabling products such as ever-expanding memory books of your children that automatically record their best moments as they grow up, and souvenirs of your holidays that compose themselves ready for your return home.
Popsa’s customers already go from selecting a product to ordering it in as little as 6 minutes, cutting out many hours that consumers have traditionally spent making these products online. Popsa’s aim is to eventually eliminate the time requirement completely. Commenting on his plans, Popsa’s CEO Liam Houghton says, “This is a multi-billion dollar industry that has been built on a legacy of clunky and frustrating tools that force people to use Photoshop-style software with thousands of options. The coming wave of automation is going to utterly transform many industries and we aim to lead that transformation in our sector.
“We’re already seeing results of this new approach. Whereas traditionally customers would order once or twice a year for big events such as weddings and Christmas, our customers are printing more casual subjects every other week. Popsa’s technology is significantly reducing the barriers to purchase.”
Declan Mellett, Popsa’s Commercial Director and Chairman said, “The complexity and time-consuming nature of the traditional way of making these products has been a limiting factor for years. I joined Popsa because it was clear that this team is going to overturn the status quo using automation. It’s a fantastic time to be involved.” Commenting on its reasons for investing, Pembroke VCT’s Managing Director, Andrew Wolfson said, “We invested in Popsa because they are simplifying a complex task with huge consumer potential, becoming one of the first movers in this market to embrace true automation. More importantly, we are convinced that Liam and the team will inject fresh ideas and methods into an industry ripe for innovation,” with Dominic Weller, of Octopus investments adding, “the industry is certainly ripe for disruption. We are excited to support the team and embark on the journey with Popsa.” Commenting further on Popsa’s offering, Liam adds, “With your permission, Popsa analyses your photo library in the background and any other source you connect, cross-referencing the metadata, photo content and user preferences to look for patterns that suggest significant life events. Importantly we are doing this analysis locally on the device wherever possible not only to reduce loading times but also to maintain our customers’ privacy.”
The results of this rolling analysis will allow Popsa to select content in a similar manner to a human. These selections are then automatically designed into keepsake products using another set algorithms in under a second leaving a very personal product that is ready to order.
Whilst the market incumbents passively wait for their customers to come back to them, Popsa will be pro-actively suggesting ready-made products instead.
This is a complete inversion of the established on-demand model for consumer print.
NOTES to Editors: About Popsa – www.popsa.com
Popsa was launched in March 2016 on Apple’s iOS operating system. The Android app will be launched in Q2 2018.
The company, based in the heart of Soho in Central London now with 10 staff, grew on average 60% month-on-month in 2017 and has accumulated hundreds of thousands of users with a repeat purchase rate of almost 1 in 2.
Liam, 28, is a former architect. His interest in technology began as a teenager making websites selling tickets for tourist attractions from his bedroom. After leaving architecture, he joined mobile-tech incubator YUZA as Chief Product Officer for 6 years from 2010.
Declan, 40, has had two previous exits in consumer print. Whilst MD of Standard Photographic he pioneered the introduction of photobooks to the UK market for the first time with retail partner Jessops, and then sold the company to European market-leader Cewe (SDAXCEWE).
About Pembroke VCT – www.pembrokevct.com
Pembroke VCT plc is a venture capital trust that invests in early stage consumer-focused businesses it believes have exciting growth prospects and strong brand value. Specifically, Pembroke focuses on the health and fitness, apparel and accessories, hospitality and media sectors.
Companies in the Pembroke portfolio include fresh juice and nut milk producer Plenish, specialist retail, deli and café group Sourced Market, bike light inventor Blaze, tight maker Heist Studios and fashion brand, Alexa Chung.
About 500 Startups – https://500.co/
500 Startups is a global venture capital seed fund with a network of startup programs headquartered in Silicon Valley with over $350M in committed capital across 4 main funds and 13 micro funds.
They have invested in 1,800 technology startups all over the world since their inception in 2010 including: Twilio (NYSETWLO), Intercom, MakerBot (acq’d by SSYS), Wildfire (acq’d by GOOG), and Viki (acq’d by Rakuten).
The 500 Series A Program – which Popsa is an alumnus of – delivers growth marketing and investment for post-seed and pre-Series A companies and runs in multiple locations globally. This investment team and mentor network has operational experience at companies such as PayPal, Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and Apple.
About Sir John Hegarty – http://www.thegaragesoho.london
John Hegarty is one of the world’s most awarded and respected admen. Over six decades he has been at the forefront of the creative advertising industry from the early days of Saatchi and Saatchi to Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the global company that still bears his name today.
John has been responsible for campaigns for Levi’s such as the groundbreaking commercial starring an unknown model called Nick Kamen who stripped off down to his boxer shorts in a launderette. He introduced the British to the phrase ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ for Audi and picked a young model/actor called Brad Pitt to star in a commercial for Levi’s. He pioneered the importance of music in commercials which has earned BBH nine number 1 hits. John also oversaw the first viral phenomenon to hit the headlines, the furry yellow puppet Flat Eric for Levi’s, who kicked Eminem off the number 1 singles slot in 1999.
In 2014, Sir John co-founded The Garage Soho – also an investor in Popsa – with venture capitalist Tom Teichman. The Garage aims to invest and nurture fast-growing startups with consumer brand potential that can leverage the success and experience of Sir John and his team.
Further information:
Richard Acworth, Cornerstone – 07917 080 365 or richard@cornerstonecomms.co.uk
Ben Larter, Cornerstone – 07825 880830 or ben@cornerstonecomms.co.uk

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