Thursday, January 22, 2009

An Impossible Project

Shortly after Polaroid announced that it would be discontinuing production of its line of instant films, I started thinking that this would be a really, really good opportunity for someone to build a successful middle market business. You've got a fairly intricate (but known) manufacturing process, passionate customers, multiple specialty uses for the product and the ability to update composition, manufacturing and distribution in line with the smaller scale of product demand.

Florian Kaps of the Lomographic Society and Andre Bosman of Polaroid, together with a team of process engineers, have acquired Polaroid's Netherlands plant and equipment with the aim of creating a new line of integral films. They call their company The Impossible Project:

'We've talked several times with Polaroid to ask them if there was any chance to keep instant film alive,' he tells [the British Journal of Photography]. 'They told us that there was no way to do it. They had run studies showing that it was very difficult to produce some of the components needed, and that nobody could do it now.' And then, by chance, at the Dutch factory's closing ceremony, Kaps was approached by a few former Polaroid employees. 'They told me that there were new ways to produce the components needed, and that there was a chance to rent the factory.

'Having secured the financing for one year of operations, Kaps went to Polaroid to purchase the machines that had been used to produce instant films. 'We looked at purchasing the machines, but we had to sign a contract with Polaroid that acknowledged the fact that we wouldn't be able to reproduce existing Polaroid films. We signed a contract that said we would be developing a new kind of instant film.'

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