Each month our co-founders Cole Roberts and Jakob Granqvist will update you on the ins and outs of Kolla. We’re kicking this mini-series off with a journal post from Jakob explaining a bit about how Kolla came to be and where our current and future focus lies.
We’re an odd business. Almost all of our internal communication happens exclusively (and extensively) in an app called Slack. If you’ve never heard of Slack, it’s an online chat software for businesses and other collaborations. I have no idea about the numbers, but wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve sent hundreds of thousands of messages back and forth. This is partly because we - the two founders of Kolla - live in different cities. (Fun fact: we’ve never shared an office in our 10+ years of being business partners.) I’m just outside of Stockholm and Cole is in Gävle a couple hours north of here. Gävle is also where our distribution office is, so if you’re receiving a Kolla package, that’s where it comes from. Or if you’re following us on Instagram and seeing those packing stories, that’s in our Gävle office.
My point, before I started rambling, is that in Slack, almost exactly two years ago to date, the first messages about Kolla were exchanged between myself and Cole. It went something like this (and I’m paraphrasing):
Jakob: I’m looking for prints for my cabin walls and drawing blank. Why are there no photography prints that aren’t tacky and/or extremely expensive?
Cole: Hmm, that’s true...
Jakob: We know all these photographers who have tons of photos that are much nicer than what I’m finding. Why don’t we do something with that?
Cole: Let’s start a business.
Jakob: Yes! Let’s make it an e-commerce shop so it’s easy for people to buy, wherever they live.
Cole: Deal. We’ll call it Kolla.
Sort of like that, although it took us slightly longer to go from problem to solution. A year later everything was in place: a brand, a website, production, distribution, customer service, etc.
We had it all figured out. Or so we thought.
Since launch, we’ve learned A LOT. Just like when we started our photography careers more than 10 years ago, we went from thinking we had it all figured out to understanding there’s so much more we don't know. Live and learn, as they say.
We did some things right, others wrong (who knew shipping glass frames internationally would prove tricky?), but along the way one thing became clear to us: everything we do must be focused around the word ‘quality’. All our actions need to lead to a better product, better service, a better sales platform, and so on. We can not ever cut corners by sacrificing quality.
This may seem obvious, but it’s not always the case when budgets are tight and the entrepreneurship climate is hard. But we’ve learned our lesson, and this is where our heads are at today.
So far we’ve switched our frame selection to better and more solid frames (and we're using acrylic glass, so frames don't break in transit), we’ve changed paper to higher quality paper, we’ve developed our platform to make it easier to use, we've added online chat support and 24/7 phone support, we’ve taken all distribution in-house for more flexibility. To mention a few things.
Ahead of us is an improved production process for faster deliveries, new website servers for a better browsing experience, new fresh packaging, added items to complement our prints, continued focus on finding the best photography from the most talented photographers, creating a better experience for our currently over 70 connected photographers…and so on, and on. Everything we do is focused on quality.
We're on the right track, and extremely excited to continue this process and to take Kolla one step further. There's a long way to go, but in the words of the late Steve Jobs: Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.
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