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mark evans

When Joseph Puopolo left his job at a startup last February, he spent two weeks on a cruise thinking about his next move.

A marketer by training and an entrepreneur at heart, Mr. Puopolo looked at all the ideas he had written down to determine which one had the most potential.

He chose to focus on customized goods, which he describes as "products without a barcode." With an aim to attack a variety of verticals, he recently unveiled his initial foray, Printchomp, a service that lets people comparison shop for printing products such as brochures, pamphlets and business cards.

Printchomp is an interesting creature. In some respects, it is disrupting the multibillion-dollar printing business by enabling consumers to get the best prices by soliciting quotes from many suppliers. At the same time, Printchomp is supporting printers by giving them an online platform to drive business and acquire more customers.

"There are disruptive elements of the technology, but the real goal was to stop the status quo of time-consuming interactions for both people ordering and processing print jobs," he said in a recent interview. "We wanted to figure out a better way to process those transactions and help people make the right decisions based on their needs."

Consumers use Printchomp by visiting the website, selecting a product, customizing it, and then quickly receiving a list of printers that can carry out the job based on price, quality, speed and rating.

Printchomp has built a directory of more than 50,000 printers across Canada and the United States. Many of them entered into a revenue-share arrangement with the company before it launched last week.

Mr. Puopolo says the biggest challenge facing Printchomp is staying focused while it moves forward with its strategic and tactical goals. "We are focused on our execution plan and we need to stick to that," he says. "Many startups get pulled in 50 different directions and don't execute."

The company pulled the covers off its launch last week at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. Mr. Puopolo says the business was well received.

"While the technology isn't the sexiest in some people's eyes, we address a real need and pain point," he explains. "It was amazing seeing how real that pain was and the relief that we could offer a solution to fix it."

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, which helps startup and entrepreneurs jump-start their marketing activities. Mark has worked with fourstartupsBlanketware, b5Media,PlanetEyeandSysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail,BloombergNews and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh and the meshmarketingconferences.

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