CLIENT STORIES

A roundtrip and an around-the-world journey with one of the world’s most iconic brands….and the adventure continues.

 
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FOR THE LOVE OF IMAGING AND IMAGINATION

It all started with a simple invitation to lunch from photo-fanatic and Rendersi founder Jim D’Aquila and Scott Hardy, the CEO who had piloted Polaroid from financial irrelevance (read: bankruptcy) back to quintessential consumer brand relevance (read nearly $500 million in effective retail sales).

 
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SCOTT
HARDY

I wasn’t really looking for another free lunch with another advisor but his passion for our brand, his photography, and his knowledge of the consumer world intrigued me to the point that I said “yes, lets have lunch”.
 
 

JIM
D'AQUILA

I have been shooting photographs since I was six and have owned dozens and dozens of cameras. But, Polaroid has always been a most special brand and I had heard that Scott’s vision was impressive.  When he said to me, “We were the original Instagram, the original instant photo sharing company”, I thought back to fighting over who kept a certain Polaroid photo at Thanksgiving dinner in 1976.  I knew he knew what his brand meant, especially in the digital age.
 
 

SCOTT
HARDY

Jim asked me how he could help, so I left the meeting telling Jim that I thought a new shareholder base could better help reach our long term objectives.  I thought for sure he would tell me private equity would be best for me, but he did not.  He simply mentioned a few family offices.  I challenged him as to whether he could actually deliver on his idea.  A week later he called me and said “Game on”.
 
 
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So, Rendersi founders Jim and Adeel delivered on their promise.

Polaroid had become an iconic brand with a simple business model (licensing) that made it so simple that it was complicated (hundreds of products in dozens of countries).  Diligence requirements were detailed and intensive and involved more than 70 licensees.

JIM
D'AQUILA

Family offices became “family offices” because someone made a great deal of money actually owning and running a business.  So, when it comes to diligence, the bar is raised quite high.
 
 

SCOTT
HARDY

Jim and Adeel profiled our layered and complex operating arrangements with our licensees in a fashion that was deeply detailed and insightful.
 
 

JIM
D'AQUILA

In December 2014,  more than 20 months after I first met with Scott for lunch, two remarkable family offices came together to purchase a controlling interest in Polaroid. I was honored then to be asked to serve on its board.
 

WHAT IS POSSIBLE AND WHAT IS IMPOSSIBLE?

Many years ago, Polaroid’s brand marks and products group were separated from it’s last remaining but idled factory that made Polaroid’s square format, “shake it like a Polaroid” film.  That plat was brought by a father and son team with the hope of starting it again.  They named the company, The Impossible Project. 

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JIM
D’AQUILA

Over the years, Scott and I talked about his dream of putting Polaroid and its original film back under “one roof”.  As a photographer, I kept shooting the various generations of Impossible film.  And, Scott kept exploring the idea of putting Polaroid and Impossible back together again.
 
 

SCOTT
HARDY

I was proud that we managed to keep our brand so relevant and popular despite the fact that we were no longer producing our original film.  But I hoped we would face another pivotal moment if we could found a path back to our original roots.
 

THEN IT HAPPENED.  THE IMPOSSIBLE TEAM WAS PRODUCING FILM THAT WAS AS MAGICAL AS THE POLAROID FILM OF YEARS LONG PASSED. 

SCOTT
HARDY

It had to happen.  We had to put Polaroid (the brand) and Impossible (the film) back together again.  So again, I turned to Jim for help.
 

JIM
D’AQUILA

Scott and his team earnestly pursued a license with the owners of the Impossible Project, Slava Smolokowski and his son, Oskar, the 28 year old CEO that led the rebirth of Impossible.  But, I suspected the DNA and future of both organizations were too closely aligned to structure a license when the ownership of Impossible and Polaroid were in separate hands.
 
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IT BECAME ENTIRELY POSSIBLE.

POLAROID + IMPOSSIBLE = POLAROID + POLAROID ORIGINALS

SCOTT
HARDY

Jim, April Lunde (Polaroid General Counsel) and I flew to Berlin to meet with Slava and Oskar to take one last shot at trying to finalize a license.  The meeting quickly changed course. 
 
 

JIM
D’AQUILA

The importance of the instant analog film business was just too vital to both sides to be held by differing interests.  The Smolokowski’s quickly realized this about halfway through our meeting and took us up on our idea that they make an offer to buy Polaroid.
 
 

SCOTT
HARDY

Talk about 180 degree turn in a meeting.  I called a board meeting for the Polaroid directors on which Jim sat. We discussed the impass we had on the licensee and that the best course may be to again recapitalize the business to align with long term business interests. We received the green light, valuation contingent.  Agreement was reached and we shook hands with the Smolokowski’s later that day.  Soon thereafter, Polaroid and the newly named Polaroid Originals film company were again under common ownership. Agreement was reached in mid-2017 and we shook hands.
 
 
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Polaroid Originals launched a new One Step 2 camera and next generation film in time for the 2017 Holiday market.  After nearly 10 years of the original Polaroid film being extinct, the real Polaroid is back!  And we continue to work with Rendersi towards our long term goals.