Powering Innovation: Custom Built Industrial Computers for Open Air Photo Booths
You’ve likely come across a photo booth at an event, carnival, or mall. You pack your friends into the cramped cabinet, make a few ridiculous faces, retrieve the tiny strip of blurry photos and that’s that. But the photo booth has come a long way in the age of Instagram, and the incredible devices from the team at Photobooth Supply Co. are a far cry from the banged up booth you used at your prom. Photo booths are big business, and the folks at PBSCO are helping enterprising entrepreneurs harness the latest photography and printing technology with their range of portable, open air photo booth solutions using OnLogics custom built industrial computers.
We spoke with Clay Heller, Marketing Director at the California-based company about how and why Photobooth Supply Co. are helping their ever-growing family of photo booth owners provide excited party-goers the photo booth experience of the future and got a sneak peak at their latest innovation, appropriately named, Queso.
OnLogic: Can you give our readers a quick introduction to you and your responsibilities at PBSCO?
Clay Heller: Sure, I’m Clay Heller, and I’m the Marketing Director here at PBSCO. I’m responsible primarily for making sure that people who are looking for ways to scale their business or start a profitable new adventure are able to find us. I also do whatever I can to help with supporting those owners once they’ve become part of the family.
OL: Does PBSCO company have a mission statement?
CH: Our mission statement took us months to refine! We all agreed on, “Photobooth Supply Co’s mission is to provide entrepreneurs with meaningful business opportunities that allow them to capture memories.”
OL: Tell us a bit about PBSCO and how the company has evolved over the years?
CH: Launching Queso, our new booth, has been a chance for us to really transform the industry. When Brandon, our CEO, and Katrina, our CFO, started this business five years ago, they were focused on building the best photo booth. For a long time, I think we’ve been selling the best photo product on the market. With Queso, there are still a lot of spaces that our owners want to grow into, and we’ve made something that is about more than just pictures. It’s an area that Facebook and other major parties are pushing towards, since they see engagement being so much higher on videos. We knew that features like this deserved to be available in a “photo booth” even though they’re not in the name.
OL: You seem to have a very customer-focused approach in everything you do. Would you say that’s part of what differentiates PBSCO from your competition?
CH: Absolutely! We love everybody. As a company, we firmly believe in the value of community over competition. So let me turn the question around a little bit. Our real competition is apathy. Look at social media, for example. There’s an easy draw for people to just go on their platform of choice and talk about how much they hate their job, or how trapped they feel. Our competition is the feeling of helplessness that people have when they’re in that situation. My job is to show them that there’s way out, and it’s why I love my job so much. I get to hear people talk about becoming their own boss and finding out what they’re truly capable of.
OL: Who are those folks that become their own boss? What are their particular needs?
CH: Our clients are everywhere. We have a truly diverse group of photo booth owners. Their particular needs revolve around specialized business training and reliable equipment. It’s pretty easy to grab a camera and call it a photo booth, honestly. Those endeavors just aren’t successful in the same terms as our owners are. We spend the majority of our efforts on making a truly robust product and teaching people how to be business people. It’s the most important thing someone can learn, and it’s only possible if they aren’t spending all their time dealing with trying to troubleshoot their equipment or work with a difficult to learn program.
OL: On the subject of equipment, what are some of your primary hardware challenges in the type of work you and your clients do?
CH: You’ll always find us talking about reliability. For our owners, the ability to send an attendant out with their booth and know it’s going to work flawlessly is the most important thing. There used to be a lot of moving parts in booths. This is what informed our decision to build our own board with OnLogic. Having a custom solution like that, which is designed to be taken out to events, is a big part of how we’re making more reliable photo booths.
OL: Can you talk a bit more about the particular project you worked on with OnLogic?
CH: We’ve seen a trend in the industry of simply assembling pieces of equipment and cobbling together a product. With OnLogic’s help, we’ve produced a photo booth that is exactly that–just a photo booth. Every piece is purpose-built to be more reliable and more effective than anything off the shelf. Our custom camera took months to get taking pictures, because we were writing its core code. Our flashes were tested for so long that one of the testers nearly got the police called. Since he’d had flashes going off every 5 seconds for a few days straight. People were worried about him!
OL: That kind of ground-up development must open up a range of possibilities. What did it allow you to do that you couldn’t do with off the shelf products?
CH: Building your own computer allows you to customize things that people can’t even dream of with an off the shelf solution. Imagine how unlimited our product became when we could align ports where they needed to go. With Queso, this means that we’re able to have a seamless design that really isn’t possible in any other situation. The computer literally runs the photo booth. It is the central point to make all of our pertinent hardware–camera, printer, flash–work together. It needs to be robust, reliable, and easy to distribute.
OL: Did you run into roadblock with other hardware manufacturers because of your specific customization needs?
CH: We did have challenges with other computer vendors in the past. Our computer is extremely customized, down to the mechanical restrictions of the mounting plate for the motherboard! We also had very specific requirements for the motherboard. OnLogic was the only vendor in our search that had connections to go directly to the motherboard manufacturer and get us what we needed. Our sales rep, Cormac, has been phenomenal. He has been a lot more of a PBSCO advocate than just a basic sales rep. Customer service, and OnLogic’s connections with certain manufacturers are two of the main reasons we chose them. They’ve brought a level of expertise to the design phase that we couldn’t find anywhere else.
Read more about Photobooth Supply Co in their client profile on our website.
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