Three former HSA managers make their entrepreneurial debut in the real world Monday, when their new laserprinting business opens its doors in the Square.
Personal Processing, Inc., located upstairs from U.S. Trust on Kennedy Street, will offer clients a range of production services. The heart of the business is a state-of-the-art computer printer that uses laser technology to make ultra-high-quality copies.
"When the LaserWriter came out, I thought it would be nice as an Apple Macintosh owner to have access to a laserprinter. Then I thought other owners might be thinking the same thing," said Randall S. Hancock '87, who founded the business along with Charles L. Proudfit '87 and Michele C. Wojcieszak '87.
A few laserprinting companies have sprung up in California, but the Personal Processing partners believe that their 5 JFK Street business may be first on the East Coast to use laserprinters exclusively.
The store will be open initially from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Proudfit said the group plans to do business on a 9-to-5 schedule as soon as it can.
Business as a 5th Course
Asked how the group will be able to juggle going to school and running a business at the same time, Proudfit said he and his partners are used to devoting long hours to extracurriculars from their experiences at HSA.
"It's kind of like taking a fifth course," Proudfit said. He said that at first, each partner will be working 25 hours a week, but after that, "What we expect will happen is that we'll be successful enough that we'll be able to hire students to work for us."
Proudfit declined to say how much it cost to start up the business, but he did say that to attract capital, the group prepared a 50-page business plan for potential investors to look at. "We didn't go to our parents for money," Proudfit said.
Some of the investors who decided to buy stock in the firm live as far away as Texas, Proudfit said.
Given those high start-up costs, the partners don't expect quick profits. Rather, they are committed to the long-term success of their business.
"It has tremendous growth potential," Proudfit said. "We see franchising as a very viable possibility."
But the laserprinting market is almost certain to get more crowded in the near future.
A laserprinter will be available to Harvard computer account owners before the end of the semester, according to Eileen V. Honan, user services representative for Harvard Computer Services. The cost of actual printing will be about 10 cents a page, but there is a $25 fee to open an account, and word-processing costs $2 an hour.
Several word processing operations in the Square said they are also looking into laserprinting. Mulberry Studio on Mt. Auburn Street already uses the Hewlett Packard LaserJet printer with IBM PCs and Displaywriters. Cost for printing is 25 cents per page, and any formatting work done is charged at $25 an hour.
Personal Processing's prices have not been finalized, but the partners said that rates will be significantly lower than the minimum $2 per page charged by other full-service word processing operations. Macintosh users can bring in their own disks for printing.