"I never went to library school to learn to launch a business," says Hoffman. "We used the money from our initial jobs to basically start the company. We did a lot of things on the cheap initially. University Property Disposition has absolutely amazing stuff. We happened to find a collection of the best scanners available, dirt cheap."
One woman gave Hoffman about three or four hundred slides she wanted digitized for her sons as a birthday present. "I was dreading it--dreading it," says Hoffman, "because it was obvious she had one of those really cheap 35 mm cameras. Remember those? They have no real focus, so you had blurry photos, you had photos without people. They want the cream of the cream, and we want them to be happy."
He scanned the slides, and brought the DVD to her house. "We put it on and started watching it. The words started pouring out of her. 'Oh I remember this!' she said. Listening to her [he realized] how much it all meant to her. They might have been the crappiest photos in the world, but they were moments in time that she remembered very vividly and cherished enormously.
"It made me realize that no matter the [visual] quality, these are all precious parts of people's lives," says Hoffman. "We often hear stories about people who have fires in their homes. What do they save first? It ain't their plasma TV. It ain't their laptop. It's all their photos."