During 2018, the very year Craig Foster joined Bright Machines, the San Francisco–based company had already been spun out from contract manufacturing firm Flex, raised a headline-grabbing $179 million in Series A funding, and shed its original moniker, AutoLab AI.
By all accounts, the manufacturing start-up, which promised to use a combination of robots and new software to perform manual labor, was open for business. However, like many start-ups, Bright Machines had yet to add some basic business functions.Read More
“We had a sense of product, but we didn’t have any infrastructure whatsoever,” comments Foster, who notes that among the company’s most immediate needs was an HR executive hire—someone capable of populating the company with experienced managers.
Still, arguably more critical to future of the business were the remedies for certain flaws that had begun to become visible in the company’s maturing business model.
“I had been working there only a few months before I realized that the business model was simply not going to work,” explains Foster.
“Basically, we had a blueprint for how things were actually supposed to come together but only a semblance of one for what the business model was supposed to look like going forward,” continues Foster, who adds that over a period of months he worked with the CEO and the company’s board to “retool” the model to better facilitate customer recurring revenues and place less emphasis on the services aspect of the company’s offerings.
“We needed not a reset of the model but just a retooling in terms of how we thought about pricing, product, and development, and we needed to retool these things in concert,” observes Foster, who notes that the new mind-set kept the distinct value that Bright Machines offers its customers in sharper focus.
Says Foster: “It was a tough bandage to rip off, but I had great support from the board and everyone else at the time.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Picsart … what does this company do, and what are its offerings?
Foster: Let me tell you the founding story. Picsart is just generally a platform for editing videos and photos. There’s a huge, whole economy building around what they call the “creator economy,” which is where people are generating new content. We’re at the baseline of this.
Our founder is a serial entrepreneur. He was actually born in Armenia, in the old Soviet bloc. After things broke up, he became an entrepreneur. Formerly, he was a university professor. One day, he saw that his daughter was really upset about something. She was an aspiring artist—like 8, 9, 10 years old—and she was really very frustrated with some software that she was using and very unhappy with the outcome for some digital art that she was creating. He looked at the problem and said, “You know what? I think we can make that better.” You know, I think that an entrepreneur is someone who is looking for a problem and can create a better solution. And he is like, “I think that there’s a better way to do this.”Read More
He started working on a solution, got a couple of other people involved, and the next thing you know, he’s like, “Hey, you know what I think? This is good enough to put on one of the app stores.” And next thing you know, they got 25 million downloads, and they were saying, “Wow, this is actually a real business!”
Today, we have 150 million people who use our platform on a monthly basis. If you were to Google “MAU” [monthly active users], you’d see that we are in the top 25 outside of gaming, which is massive. The nongamers include the Facebooks and Instagrams and TikToks of the world—not necessarily my age demographic. Our primary use cases skew onto the Gen Z side of the business, but this is where this creator economy and all of this creation momentum is happening.
The company was founded in 2009. We’re growing very quickly. We’ve built a really, really good community around creation, and I think that this is what really differentiates us.
Picsart | www.picsart.com | San Francisco, CA