Fruni Print hopes to lower students’ printing costs
By Goh Thean Eu April 8, 2016
- Plans to expand to 10 institutions by year-end, wants to go national
- Aiming for a win-win scenario for students and advertisers
MANY startups begin with the desire to solve a particular pain point or problem. In the case of Fruni Print Sdn Bhd, it was to find a way to lower printing costs for university students, and to maximise advertisers’ return on investments at the same time.
“For many university students, getting their homework or lecturers’ slides printed out can be a costly affair,” founder and chief executive officer Alexis Ang told Digital News Asia (DNA) after Fruni Print’s official launch (pic above) in Subang Jaya recently.
This pain point led to the 2015 founding of Fruni Print (Free University Printing), which describes itself as social startup.
In order to enjoy free printing, students must first get a Fruni Print membership card from their university, and then activate the card at the Fruni Print website. They can then log in and upload the files they want to print onto the website.
The university concerned will have a dedicated room housing a Fruni Print Touch Panel connected to a printer. Once their files are uploaded, students can head to the Fruni Print Touch Panel and print the files there.
Students will have a weekly quota of 50 pages.
For now, Fruni Print’s services are only available at Taylors University Lakeside Campus, but the company has aggressive expansion plans.
“By the end of this year, we are looking to be present in 10 institutions,” said Ang, an HSBC scholar who graduated from Taylor’s Business School in November 2015.
Not an entirely new idea
Tanstaafl: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. After all, as a company, Fruni Print needs funds to buy and maintain the printers. (It currently has four printers in Taylors University.)
In order to remain sustainable, the company is working closely with brands and companies to advertise their products and services on the flipside of the students’ printouts.
“For now, we are working with about 10 brands and companies. We are definitely looking at growing this aggressively,” said Ang (pic above).
Ang said he is aiming for a win-win situation for students and advertisers. Students get their study materials printed for free, while advertisers get a channel for marketing messages and campaigns specifically targeted at these students.
“That way, we provide a smart platform that supports students in their studies while making sure advertisements go directly into their hands and stay with them throughout the whole semester,” he explained.
Ang stressed that the idea of subsidising students’ printing costs via advertising isn’t entirely new.
“It is already happening in other countries like Hong Kong and Taiwan, but they use a different method – they pre-print the advertisements onto the paper before it is placed into the printers for students,” he said.
“We leverage on technology – using our printing solution, which we developed with a partner, we can customise and set specific advertisements for targeted universities,” he added.
For example, a bakery or café near a certain university can target their advertisements specifically at only the students at that university.
Currently, Fruni Print advertisers include eyewear retailer Focus Point, Komugi bakery, and the World Wildlife Fund.
One step at a time
Ang would not disclose Fruni Print’s monthly expenses, but claimed that the company – which now has a team of more than 10 employees – is already operationally profitable.
“The revenue we get is able to cover our payroll, office space rental, maintenance, and so forth,” he said.
Ang has ambitious goals for Fruni Print, but acknowledged that it was crucial for startup to get off on the right footing.
“We have plans to go national and even global, but will do it one step at a time,” he said.
Fruni Print has not raised any venture capital or angel investor funds, but was awarded a grant of RM500,000 (US$128,000 at current rates) under Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd’s Cradle Investment Programme 500 (CIP 500) scheme.
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