you're reading...


The story of instantprint – Top startup advice from co-founders James and Adam

The story of instantprint is one of drive, determination a passion and of finding a gap in the market and filling it. It begins back in 2009 with friends Adam Carnell and James Kinsella who had just left university and were ready to change the world. 

Having planned many events at university, they’d noticed that buying printed promotional materials a pain point for business owners and that you had to negotiate through a wall of confusing jargon to get anywhere. They set about to create a more streamlined approach that would form the basis of the instantprint we know and love today.

They wanted to create an online printing business focusing on small businesses and startups – whose owners may not be experienced in buying print. They wanted it to be a relatable and affordable platform for everyone, from university event planners to eager SMEs. A platform from which they could order bespoke flyers and leaflets and any number of other printed materials via a clean, easy-to-understand interface and provide quick turnarounds with quality results.

They quickly outgrew their first base in Newcastle and, in 2012, merged with Bluetree Design and Print, forming new firm Bluetree Group in Sheffield. Bluetree Group became one of the fastest growing businesses in the country, appearing on the Virgin Sunday Times Fast Track 100 ranking not once but twice. After sustained growth and success, the firm then moved to their current 100,000sq ft base in Rotherham in 2015.

In 2020, Adam and James responded to WHO’s (World Health Organisation) worldwide appeal to increase surgical mask production by 40%. The manufacturer launched a medical arm to their business, Bluetree Mask Box, becoming the UK’s first manufacturer of type IIR surgical masks. This investment has seen them increase their square footage by 62% taking on two additional neighbouring units and occupying a staggering 161,675sq ft. 

Business advice from James and Adam

While James and Adam have enjoyed a great deal of success with instantprint, they are not above using their success as a platform to help other aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Here are a few top tips they have for anyone wishing to follow in their footsteps:

  • Partnerships are very specific and will vary from business to business. However, one thing that remains true is that partners need to be able to trust each other. Don’t go into business with somebody you don’t trust from a personal and professional perspective.
  • Set your goals early and work to reach those goals with every fibre of your being. If you don’t have a finish line in sight then it can be easy to drift from the path.
  • Secure cash flow fast and get money coming in as quickly as possible. If you’re not turning a profit in the first few months then it can kill off a business before it even gets off the ground.
  • Only hire the people you absolutely need and the people that you know are going to work for you well. In the early stages of a company, you really can’t afford to be carrying anybody.
  • Make connections with other entrepreneurs and help each other out. We’re not in this alone, after all.
  • Finally, ensure you have a product or a service that you are truly passionate about. People will always see through you if you’re phoning it in!


No comments yet.

Post a Comment


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: