‘Bengaluru reminds me of Silicon Valley 10 years ago’
Snapfish’s Managing Director in conversation with
Shalini Kathuria Narang
Bala Parthasarthy, managing director, Asia Pacific and Latin America, Snapfish-Hewlett-Packard, one of
the world’s leading online photo services
site, moved to Bengaluru about three years
ago after 20 years in California to commence the firm’s operations in India and
run the business in other countries. An
The Business Interview
Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and
University of California alumnus, Bala is
one of the four founders of Snapfish.
How did Snapfish happen?
After toying with several ideas, we decided on a photo-sharing site. The idea was
the brainchild of Sumeet Wadhwa, one of
the founders, who was very interested in
photography. When we started Snapfish, a
two megapixel digital camera for $600 in
the United States was a geek thing to own.
We started with people sending us film
rolls that we would process and send back
the prints and original rolls, while also
scanning those pictures and putting them
online. Then digital cameras came along
and killed the film camera market. We
adapted ourselves to this change and grew.
How is it being a part of a large organiza-
tion like HP after being a serial entrepre-
neur and running your own show?
Starting and running Snapfish in India
and other parts of Asia Pacific is like run-
ning a startup. Though HP provides
Snapfish a brand umbrella, we work quite
autonomously at Snapfish.
A woman uses her digital camera at a fashion show. Bala Parthasarthy believes there is a lot of potential for growth in India as digital camera, smart phone and broadband penetration increases
What have you learnt about the Indian
market and Indian consumers?
India is a very price sensitive market and
our best value proposition is the highly
competitive pricing of Rs 2.95 (7 cents) for
a 4X6 print. Besides a great price, we also
provide great quality, brand and free shipping. For cellphone users, Snapfish can be
accessed from a Sony-Ericsson phone via
an app. We also have an iPhone app, and
others are in the works. The world is moving towards camera phones. Having a good
set of solutions for camera phones is vital.
We have had to customize to the local
demands like providing a photo album with
the prints. Indian customers demand
prints in an album, as they have been get-
VICTOR FRAILE/REU TERS
ting that service from brick and mortar
photo retailers. Since Snapfish is a global
company, we offer a seamless integration
experience to our users. For example, a user
registered in the US can log on to the India
site with the same username/password
combination and pay in rupees and vice
versa. Snapfish Publisher is the other large
initiative this year that serves as a platform
for individuals and companies to market
and sell their creative designs, merchandise
What is your competition in India?
Retail is still our biggest competition in
India. eCommerce is burgeoning. We can-
not get ahead of the market, as eCommerce
matures, we will grow.