November 01, 2015
Legacy Republic: Taking On a $50 Billion Market
by Beth Douglass Silcox
Photo above: Family members view their newly digitized photos and videos through Legacy Republic’s memory-keeping services.
Legacy Republic Leverages Trust, Technology
Founded: October 2014
Headquarters: Santa Clara, California
Executives: Brian Knapp, Head of Legacy Republic and Chief Revenue Officer of YesVideo
Services: Digitally preserving and storing media for memory keeping and gifts
YesVideo, an innovative media transfer service, invested $6 million and its expansive operational support to create a social-selling subsidiary, Legacy Republic, last year. In doing so, they anted up scale and technology to a business model they believed could have a share of a $50 billion marketplace—digitizing media for memory keeping.
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Legacy Republic’s parent company has a long history of tech development, with 15 patents worldwide in digitizing and indexing obsolete media formats such as VHS, photos and slides, as well as 8 mm films. Since 1999 they have preserved cherished memories for some 8 million families through business partnerships with 30,000 retailers in the U.S. In January 2014 they were among Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies, reporting $26.5 million in revenue and 346 employees.
Why, then, was the world’s largest media transfer company drawn to an unfamiliar business model like direct selling? Brian Knapp, Head of Legacy Republic and Chief Revenue Officer of YesVideo, says it’s a matter of leveraging trust and technology to fill an enormous gap in the photo market.
The current photo market consists of three distinct subsections: digitization of older media formats like reel-to-reel, VHS, slides and photos; online storage of digital memories; and photo gifts.
Knapp points to an estimated 90 million families in the United States, according to a survey by growth consulting company Frost and Sullivan, that have approximately 2 billion videos and photo albums in non-digital formats languishing in attics, basements and hall closets. Cardboard boxes, self-stick three-ring binders and plastic slide containers can’t protect them from time, flood or fire, but digitizing them can.
Consultants and customers share their legacies at a recent Legacy Show.
Of highest value to consumers, and at the core of Legacy Republic’s business strategy, is digitizing these outdated media formats. “That’s what you can’t do yourself. You can’t put that vintage film on your hard drive. You can’t load it onto Google Photo. They are hard to preserve digitally and people are very happy and willing to pay for it. Plus, they appreciate getting it done,” Knapp says.
Of course, consumers do have options for those tubs of memories waiting to be uploaded to the cloud. YesVideo established itself with people willing to drop off items at Wal-Mart, Costco or CVS, but millions more are looking for face-to-face assurance before they relinquish their most cherished keepsakes to shipping and technology. And that’s precisely where social selling comes in.
“Trust is that missing element we are trying to solve. It’s very challenging to develop that level of trust in other business models like online or retail,” Knapp says. “Let’s face it; nobody’s getting warm and fuzzy from interacting with them. They are focused on increasing profit margins and that’s a job, but it’s not a relationship.”
Social selling cultivates trust, and Legacy Republic’s Legacy Makers, currently numbering 400 consultants in about 40 states, bring that relationship component to life in living rooms, kitchens and coffee shops every day. They are the embodiment of the company’s mission to preserve, organize and share cherished family memories.
Establishing a social selling consultant base, however, was out of Legacy Republic and YesVideo’s purview, Knapp admits. That’s why they relied on Bay Area direct selling experts to inject the industry’s DNA and ready them for last year’s launch. From a core launch group of Legacy Makers, it didn’t take long to grow organically as word spread through the close-knit scrapbooking community. Scrapbooking enthusiasts found a kindred mission in Legacy Republic.
|A Legacy Maker shows how her company converts and saves photos and other media digitally for safekeeping as well as gifts.|
But the past year has not been without challenges, as Legacy Republic learned valuable lessons on setting expectations and managing a consultant base. Despite nine out of 10 people needing the service, and the company having the utmost confidence in the business model, Knapp says at the end of the day this business requires dedication, consistent follow-through, focus and effort—not “dipping in and out.”
Legacy Republic recently acquired the 2012 startup Yarly, a cross-platform photo management service founded by Allison Strouse. Knapp finds Strouse, who is staying on as an executive advisor, as well as Yarly’s Partners, to be “high functioning, high velocity, very passionate and very successful.”
By leveraging and integrating the expertise and dedication of Yarly’s leadership and Partner base, Legacy Republic aims to grow its consultant base. “I’m looking to grow successful businesspeople and successful entrepreneurs, so it’s really about quality and not necessarily size right now,” Knapp says.
Legacy Makers are the conduit that enables customers to recapture their youth, glimpse their long-lost relatives, and celebrate all of it today and tomorrow with those they love. Once captured digitally, those images are forever accessible and provide Legacy Republic a new high-value opportunity for revenue growth through photo gift sales. “We’re really playing all three photo market categories,” Knapp says.
“When you’re talking about that space between Shutterfly and Wal-Mart, it’s a massive, massive, multibillion-dollar space, so we can’t just get there through organic growth,” he says. “There will be more acquisitions, but they will be less about consultant growth and more about expanding our products and services or expanding our internal team to support our Legacy Makers.”
This first year’s focus has been on YesVideo’s existing tech savvy—their state-of-the-art Memory Factories totaling 80,000 square feet of equipment dedicated to protecting, storing and sharing vintage family memories, as well as their accessibility to Silicon Valley’s finest developers.
They flexed their tech muscles early by developing a social media platform that relies heavily on YouTube and Facebook videos and still-photo posts. The company’s professionally produced, in-house YouTube videos total 30 to date and engage consumers and consultants alike, while Facebook has become the company’s town square. “It’s a central place where our Legacy Makers can interact with each other and interact with the home office in almost real time,” Knapp says.
That online community is helping Legacy Republic build an offline community too. The most successful “shows,” known as parties in most direct selling circles, originate as Facebook events. Legacy Makers promote the events using their own digitized family treasures and Legacy Republic information, then gather guests together in person. Often, guests bring along items they’d like digitized as a matter of convenience because they’ve already made the decision to purchase.
|Legacy Republic customers reveal what they hope to share with others through their digital memories.|
Held anywhere, Legacy Republic shows take place over bagels and scones, margaritas and even fantasy football picks. “Our belief is that if our shows are a great experience, if they’re meaningful and fun, and our leaders have the training and the passion, company growth will take care of itself,” Knapp says.
Legacy Republic wants to be a high-growth company, but Knapp wants to grow in a very sustainable way. Social selling, he says, where people get together and really connect with each other, produces highly satisfied customers who talk and share. That’s why Legacy Republic’s shows are so important and why the social selling aspects of Facebook and YouTube are equally so. Knapp says, “Those things really work hand-in-hand to draw people to explore this business opportunity. We can afford to be patient.”
So Knapp patiently checks his favorite indicator of company growth—“number of shows booked”—every day and happily reports, “September outpaced the previous two months combined.”
Booking and managing increasing numbers of shows got much easier in May when the company launched a new iOS app that uses game-like mechanics, similar to Uber’s, to make sales into a game for Legacy Makers. They can compete against one another to get top scores and move up in the organization, all by converting scrapbooks and movies and recruiting customers. Everything necessary to run and grow the business, including tracking sales and order status as well as viewing team reports and earnings, is available in this app that modernizes and integrates the social sales experience.
|A Legacy Maker uses her own family treasures to demonstrate Legacy Republic’s digital technology capabilities.|
On the company’s Oct. 1 launch anniversary, Legacy Republic debuted Family Legacy, a free, private online account that safely stores newly digitized media and provides customers access on the go. This multifaceted app helps identify the best scenes in home videos and provides simple video editing tools that make it easy to create custom DVDs and share clips via email or social media postings. Stylized frames and messages are available through Hallmark Cards Inc., and there is free, unlimited cloud storage.
Knapp sees irony in utilizing high technology like YesVideo’s patented digitization software to get a 1950s film onto an iPad in 2015, so that generations of families can experience old memories for the first time. “You’re literally walking around with a time machine,” Knapp says. And the end product of the service is safely tucked inside that time machine, waiting to be viewed or shared to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.