We met with small business owner Ngina Shulman of Lotus Media to learn how she successfully runs her business preserving families’ memories by digitizing their home videos and photos—and how she expanded beyond the local market using Authorize.Net to accept payments.
Tell us about Lotus Media.
Lotus Media specializes in digitizing videos and photos. We help clients from all over the country future-proof their memories by converting their old video tapes, film, photos and slides into digital copies.
How did the company get its start?
My husband and I started the company a few years ago when we tried to show an old VHS tape of my 6th grade recital to my daughters. To our disappointment, the VCR ate the tape after just a few minutes.
We were reluctant to ship our VHS tapes. Videos and photos are irreplaceable. We didn't see any great reviews of online companies so we set out on a journey to digitize our VHS tapes ourselves. After spending months researching the best way to preserve tapes (not to mention hundreds of dollars on equipment) we arrived at a solution we were happy with. It really felt like we came up with something unique. After getting great feedback from our friends on the digitization we did for them, we were convinced this could be a business that would benefit the community.
What is special/unique about your business?
We have tried to create a service that’s very accessible and friendly. One we would use ourselves. My husband likes a good deal, so we did extensive research to ensure we had prices at least 40% lower than our competitors. All of the work we do is performed in our workshop in Bellevue, WA, so our turnaround is just 10 business days compared to a month or more from our competitors that ship the media overseas for digitization. Most importantly, we take pride in our customer service. We treat every order as if it was our own, doing everything possible to get top video and image quality from every tape, film reel and photo we scan. We enjoy hearing the stories from our customers about what they’re digitizing and why. We want them to know we’re going to take the upmost care with their treasured memories.
What does it mean to you to provide people with this great service? Why do you do it?
The feedback we’ve heard from our customers has been amazing. It has been immensely gratifying to allow folks to relive special moments like birthday parties, ski trips and graduations. Some of the orders we receive are for relatives that have passed, and I feel grateful that we’re trusted to help preserve these precious memories.
How did it feel the first time you got a purchase from your online store?
It was quite a thrill! Our initial orders were all via Amazon and word-of-mouth, so having someone purchase the service directly through our site was a great validation for us.
What kind of experience do you offer your customers?
To get started, customers complete a digitization form specifying how they would like the digital output delivered (cloud or flash drive). Next, they mail the form along with the media to our workshop. We take it from there. We send an email upon the completion of the order along with an invoice. Once payment is posted, we send a link to the Google Drive folder where customers can view their videos. At this time, we also mail back the videos if the customer wished to have them returned.
What are your customers passionate about?
Most of our customers are committed to preserving their family’s memories for generations to come. It’s wonderful to see how excited folks get when the entire video history of their family, some ranging as far back as films from the early 50’s, becomes available for the entire family to view online.
Has accepting online orders/payments changed/grown your business?
It was a total game changer. While some customers pay with cash/check the wide majority prefer electronic payment. Authorize.net makes it a snap to create custom, detailed invoices. We were a local company doing local business and Authorize.Net has allowed the whole country to experience our services.
Describe your experience working with Authorize.net. Can you tell me about how our suite of services helps your business?
Authorize.net is a fantastic platform. We tried a few other payment systems such as Square and PayPal, but customers were occasionally confused by the interface and how to make the payment. I’m happy to say we haven’t had any of those issues with the invoices we’ve sent through Authorize.net.
To learn more, visit Lotus Media.