Derek Thomas had his major “aha” moment while sitting in a bar in Boston. The inventor of the LearLite, a new product aimed at jewelers, was watching Svedka Vodka host a promotion where bar-goers took zany photos of themselves then emailed them to their personal inboxes directly from the set-up’s computer—which, incidentally, captured reams of new emails while branding each photo with Svedka’s logo.
“To this day,” says Thomas, “I get emails from Svedka.”
His big idea: to create a high-quality light box that allows both customers and retailers to take high-quality images of products then email the photos directly from the tabletop rig.
The LearLite does just that. It’s a Wi-Fi portable device that allows customers to instantly email (and then, most importantly, share) images of items they are buying or considering buying.
The LearLite in action (photo courtesy of LearLabs)
It’s a cool convenience for the social media–obsessed. But Thomas says the jeweler is the big winner here. “Now the jeweler has the ability to log on to the portal—which is built on a Cloud—and see the captured email addresses and ID every single person that was in his store. And you have a picture of the item or items that the customer was looking at,” he explains. So you can do direct marketing to customers around the types of product you know they already like. “It’s a win-win,” he adds. “The customer is getting something she wants, and the retailer is getting something he wants.”
The roughly three-pound system comes with a mounting for an iPhone with a 5-megapixel camera; you can use your own phone, or buy a dedicated one for $150 from LearLite.
Instead of selling the LearLite outright to jewelers, Thomas decided that a subscription-based model, where retailers rent the device for $44 a month, was more advantageous for his company—a choice that could potentially turn off customers.
Still, the idea is undeniably a good one, and the monthly fee ensures that should anything go wrong with the device, it’s not the retailer’s problem.
The LearLite is currently in more than 40 jewelry stores, including Lux Bond & Green, primarily in the New England region.