The co-founders of LTLprints.com were able to sneak away to the Midwest on an investors…
Photo by Danny Brown
Many people dream of making their first million before they are 30. For lifelong Manhattan Beach local Mike Mothner, 27 and Santa Monica resident Anderson Schoenrock, 28, the dream was already old news when they sat down last spring to collaborate on an empire in the uncharted digital world.â€œI was eating Christmas dinner with my family last year when my mom, who had just got her digital camera, asked me how she could get all the old photos into the computer,â€ recalled Mothner. “The light bulb went off. It would be a time consuming task and I ran upstairs and checked online to see if other people were doing it.” Mothner pitched the idea of converting photographs, negatives and slides to Schoenrock at a New Yearâ€™s party last year. The two met in 2001 when they were members of Dartmouth Universityâ€™s Psi Epsilon and made vague plans to one day work together. They launched their new company last June.
The start up money for ScanDigital came from Mothnerâ€™s Wpromote.com, an online marketing agency that achieved approximately $6 in revenue in 2007. Inc. 500 ranked Wpromote as the 62nd fastest growing private company in the United States.
Mothner began the company from his dorm room during his freshman year at Dartmouth. During the peak of the dotcom boom, he worked as an intern for Red Point Ventures, reading business plans. This was before Google had become a household word and there was an array of different search engines sprouting up. Reading through the plans, Mothner noticed a pattern: the companies all had websites and needed to find a way to increase their visibility online.
Mothner began programming while a student at Pacific Elementary. When he was 14 he wrote a basic calendar program that was like a simpler version of Microsoft Outlook.
â€œIt got passed around schools and campuses and probably generated about four grand,â€ Mothner said. â€œI spent the money on baseball cards and comics â€” probably not the wisest investment.â€
Mothner ran Wpromote throughout college, where he pursued a double major in Computer Science and Economics. For $9.95 a month, the program alerted the different search engines about a new website and indexed it, a process that would otherwise take two days of work. The company caught the eye of people working at Google. The Web conglomerate and Mothner formed a relationship that has since given Mothner a powerful ally in the cyber realm.
â€œIâ€™ve stayed pretty close with the Google team,â€ said Mothner. â€œA few months ago they came down to our office to help train people, and a bit after that I was invited to their office to do a Q and A about the things I liked and disliked about their product. Only three other agencies were invited.â€
Mothner was working as the fulltime CEO of his college start-up company when he approached Schoenrock with the idea for ScanDigital.
Schoenrock, who graduating two years before Mothner, had landed an investment banking job on Wall Street. At 25, he and a Wall Street colleague started a boutique real estate firm. The firm completed a number of high profile transactions, including the sale of the Union Bank Plaza Tower in downtown Los Angeles for $143 million. When Mothner approached Schoenrock, the boutique real estate company controlled $600 million of real estate property. But Schoenrock was sensing that the real estate boom was nearing its end.
â€œI sold my share and the people I worked with went onto a bigger real estate company,â€ said Schoenrock. â€œI didnâ€™t have any interest in working for a big company again. I liked starting up companies.â€ â€œI recognize the risk of working with friends,â€ said Mothener, â€œbut if you divide the roles well, then the benefit is going to be better than if we didnâ€™t know each other.â€
Within months of its summer launch, the company has experienced an average 25 to 30 percent monthly growth and has increased its staff from 3 to 17. Schoenrock handles the day to day affairs while Mothner works at the strategic level, while addition to continuing to run Wpromote. â€œOur growth trajectory has been too rapid to put into numbers,â€ said Mothner.Schoenrock agreed. â€œOne of the best lessons I learned on Wall Street was that you can get bogged down if you spend all day with projections. The best thing to do is to focus your energy on building a solid product. If you do that well, then the money will be there.â€
During the Malibu fires a 70 year-old lady said she was able to leave her house quickly because ScanDigital had converted nearly 100 of her photo albums onto a few CDs. â€œOur hope is that in a few years people will say, oh you know what you should do with that box of old photos? You should ScanDigital it,â€ Schoenrock said. â€œThatâ€™s our hope, to make our companyâ€™s name into a verb.â€
For more information visit Scandigital.com. ER