Adam and James of Instantprint

Adam Carnell and James Kinsella of instantprint

Making an instant impact

Launched by two former school friends back in 2009, Rotherham-based digital printing firm instantprint is now one of the country’s fastest growing companies.

School friends Adam Carnell and James Kinsella launched instantprint back in 2009 after identifying a gap in the market to take the printing industry online.

Starting off as a small digital printing service in Newcastle, the company has since grown into a fast-growing £30m turnover business employing 260 people.

“Whilst at university Adam and I were involved in running events and used to spend a huge amount of time running back and forth to local printers,” said James.

“We thought there had to be an easier way to do this but couldn’t find a suitable alternative so we decided to set up our own.

“At school and university we always had some type of venture going together so as we came to the end of university we looked for what our next opportunity could be.

“We spent some time creating business plans for various ideas we had, some were quite out there such as transporting narrow boats to France but thankfully we chose print.”

The duo had been running their own events throughout their time at university and had often worked with printers to create their flyers and posters.

They were dealing primarily with local printers, constantly running back and forth, and thought there must be a way to make the process easier.

With this in mind they launched instantprint, a digital-only 24/7 printing business and their first year in business was a huge learning curve.

They had launched the business with no previous experience of print or ecommerce but were determined to make it a success.

James added: “In the first year we set up in a small office above a car dealership, I remember being very cold for the whole year as we didn’t have any heating!

“The first year was a huge technical challenge as we had no understanding of print or eCommerce, there was a very steep learning curve to overcome.”

Having started off printing stationary, they decided in their second year to branch out and expand their offering to create marketing collateral such as fliers, posters, banners, you get the jist.

“Although the business grew over the first year it didn’t really boom until we moved into the new factory in our second year and changed our focus away from stationery and onto marketing materials.

“The key learning at this point was the difference in value between the time spent working on the business versus time spent working in it.”

On the back of a successful second year, the business really started to take off, growing significantly year-on-year.

It was 2015 however when the business started to really excel. The duo pumped £9m into a new 100,000 sq ft factory in Rotherham and turnover began to soar.

So much so, they have been named in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 league table for the last two years.

James said: “Yorkshire is a great location for the business and we’ve been able to recruit an outstanding team. Commercially it’s best for us to run one large print facility and ship out to the rest of the UK.

“As an eCommerce business the most critical location factors are being able to recruit the right team, good transport links and a good internet connection! Rotherham ticks all those boxes for us.”

But what’s next for the business?

James concluded: “The business started in June 2009 and in financial year 2016/17 we will turnover £30m with a team of 260. 

"Online print is still very much in it’s infancy with less than 3% of commercial print purchased online, for this reason the focus of the business will be looking at those print products that cannot currently be purchased together with trying to attract buyers that haven’t considered purchasing their print online."