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An Interview with the Kotu Printing Team
November 30, 2015
As a company that focuses on sustainable printing practices and printing technology, we are always on the lookout for new and inventive ways in which someone incorporates these values into their life or business. We recently came across an amazing start-up company based out of Los Angeles, CA that is using remanufactured ink for print jobs that they complete for their users. The company, called Kotu Printing, was founded just two months ago—yes, that’s really two—and the serve the UCLA campus and a small radius beyond. What is most interesting about the company very much in its infancy is that it was co-founded by four undergraduate students, the oldest of whom is 21. All signs indicate they have caught fire and are rapidly becoming a key component in the lives of the students at UCLA. The interview was conducted via email and our questions with the team’s answers appear below:
1) When was Kotu founded and why? How long has it been up and running?
2) Who are each of the key employees and their academic backgrounds? What roles do they play in Kotu?
3) What is the reasoning behind using recycled paper and remanufactured ink?
4) What types of printers (inkjet or laser) are you using to fulfill your orders? How many do you currently use?
5) Can you talk a little bit about your process from how an order gets placed through to when its delivered?
6) What options can a customer choose from besides color vs. black and white? Are there any limits on the file types you currently print?
7) It says on your site "Delivery to wherever you'd like". Do you have any geographic limits on your delivery area?
8) Some people would balk at the idea of using remanufactured ink in OEM printers. Have you experienced or noticed any issues by opting for the lower cost alternative (compared to OEM ink)?
9) What are your plans for next 1, 3, and 5 years? Is crowdfunding something you are looking into? If so, what are the types of things you would be looking to obtain?
3 years from now we want the household printer to be done with its run, and for the daily user to be printing through Kotu.
5 years from now we hope to have a relationship with everyday print users and enterprise printing that helps paper catch up to the technology around it.
10) Without giving away any "trade secrets", what advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs looking to start some type of business? What skills are necessary? What might be one (or more) things that someone might not be aware of?
SO: Learning by doing is a big thing for us. If you want to start a business and tell yourself you don't know how, you might as well give up. If you want to spend years in school doing case studies that might give you a hint as to how thats up to you. Here at Kotu we have a group of founders that is learning by doing, and that is a whole new game. The stakes are higher and the rewards are much larger, I'd even say we learn more from doing it ourselves. Do it or don't, its amazing how many things are that simple.
SD: Managing the books of a startup can be hard. Lots of money comes in and out in such a quick time. If you don't stay on top of things you could easily find yourself steering into the red. People underestimate the importance of making sure their startup is in the green. It shows investors responsible use of funding which is key to attracting new funding.
Startup tech teams can be a lot of work. There’s nights that are just me and a few other guys cranking out product. Nothing is better than seeing it finished and running for a user, though. Especially when everything works the way you want it to.