PiciScan has changed quite a bit in its short life
We started out in a tiny office in a fairly drab industrial estate, with only one customer and no employees. Now, we're in rather better surroundings, a Grade II Listed, Georgian mansion house, near the middle of Kendal, and have completed work for hundreds of customers for more than eight years. This is our story.
Back in November of 2009, there was widespread flooding in Cumbria. In Kendal, we didn't get it nearly as bad as Burneside, just down the road. Nor did we get it as bad as Cockermouth, in the north of the county, where bridges were ripped apart and cars were carried miles down the road. But, hundreds of people still photographed and filmed the floods in Kendal and it made front page news in the Westmorland Gazette, our local paper. A few days later, the floods had gone from Kendal and the river level returned to normal.
No-one was fascinated by the river anymore. No-one saw fit to film it or photograph it. And yet, it was still changing every day. This got our founder, Mark Syred, thinking.
Every photograph taken is a record of a moment in history. It is a record of something almost unreal, because AS SOON as the photograph has been taken, something has changed. Digital photography has made archiving these transient moments easier than ever. But, in the world there are millions, maybe billions, of images that exist as paper photographs, slides or even just as negatives, that one day will fade and disappear. PiciScan was set up, partly to help preserve the memory of the past.
Every photo is an historical record. With PiciScan I wanted to help keep people's historical records alive for generations to come.
Mark Syred, PiciScan founder
PiciScan's first office was in The Lake District Business Park, near the confluence of the rivers Kent and Mint. As a consequence of the recent flooding, getting insurance was tricky, despite the Business Park's manager's assurance that the whole area was designed not to flood. It was built on a bank that had been deliberately been built higher than that on the other side, made lower to act as a flood water capture.
Our very first customer was the Cumbria Industrial History Society, who'd responded to an early email campaign sent out to local historical societies. They proved to be an excellent customer as they had thousands of slides and negatives that they'd inherited from one of their recent members.
Various advertising campaigns produced limited success. Ours is the sort of business where you need to capture people: we discovered that print advertisied wasn't the way forward. But, thankfully, local awareness began to grow and, from there word of mouth and a constantly evolving website helped us to attract customers from across the country.
After taking on a part-time administrator in 2013, despite the growing numbers of customers, it became clear that PiciScan would need some external investment in order to keep going. It took a while to find this, but in mid 2015, it came from an unlikely source. Alan Jewitt, CEO of a local web development company, Sell Your Products Online, expressed an interest and agreed to purchase the business. He retained Mark as a web developer, as PiciScan's resident expert, and as the person who would train any new employees of the business.
Flooding affected Kendal again in December 2015, and us directly this time. But, thanks to the quick thinking of Caroline Dawson, SYPO's administrator, every piece of PiciScan's equipment and all the customer's slides were saved. We're now upstairs in the same Georgian mansion house we moved into in 2015, thankfully well away from any floodwater.