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Pinfinity’s Caleb Paullus on how pins come alive with music, animation and more!
Caleb! Thanks for making time! I’ve wanted to do an interview with you since I first saw Pinfinity. Tell us: what is Pinfinity?
Pinfinity creates high-quality collectible patented pins that – when scanned with our free app – unlocks content like music, video, animation, downloadables and more!
So really it brings enamel pins to life! We’ll put a couple of videos in lower down, just so people really feel it. Tell me: how did you come to the idea?
In my spare time, I used to make pin badges and sell them for fun. As I watched the market grow, more and more people became excited about collecting pins – thanks Disney!
Disney was instrumental in that growth?
Yes… Since the introduction of the Disney Pin Trader Program in the late 90s. It’s been booming ever since! So, I began to think: how can I add value to a staple item that has existed forever?
Right. Because the actual pins aren’t a novel concept…
And then it hit me… Augmented Reality. Mind you, this was before Pokemon Go hit the market, so it was too early to launch. So I did my research on the tech and if it was even possible to do through an app. Eventually, I had the first iteration of the app ready to go.
Brilliant. What year was this? Also, at what point did you realise the idea would best suit a range of brands?
This would have been in 2019. I knew right away this could work across multiple verticals. I have quite a bit of experience in working with licensors and licensees so – while I ran Pinfinity in stealth-mode – I began to have conversations with various brand and IP holders and eventually did a promotional pin with Disney in the UK for Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker.
Pull: “It didn’t take long for other licensors to see the potential and reach out directly to us!”
This is before you founded the company?
Yes. After that, I connected with my now co-founders, Matthew and Hannah Arevalo, set up Pinfinity. We started having discussions with brands to make these pins a reality for fans. It didn’t take long for other licensors to see the potential and reach out directly to us!
Terrific! So with which brands do you currently work?
We work with a lot of really fantastic brands like Hasbro – we do My Little Pony, Power Rangers, Transformers and GI Joe… There’s Wizards of the Coast – Magic the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons… Tetris, Pac-Man, Jay & Silent Bob…
This is a pretty terrific portfolio!
You know, we’ve been very fortunate to have interest coming from so many brands! We also have Care Bears and Madballs with Cloudco; we have Team 17, Brace Yourself Games, Street Fighter – the list goes on across retail and direct-to-consumer as well as some up-coming promotional / marketing experiences. We recently signed with NBC Universal for a partnership across a large variety of great properties!
Great! This fits in with your mission, as I understand it? By which I mean you have a specific ambition…
Right – our aim is to create the world’s-greatest collectible pin community, and offer great content that fans will love.
So… How does your process work? Do you prefer to look at companies that already have pin collectors? Or to with companies before they have pins? What are the steps to getting from simple pin to Pinfinity?
It isn’t always important that there are already pins out there when working with a specific IP. The most important part is the content. What type of content can we tie-in with Augmented Reality? What’s going to evoke that nostalgia or that emotional connection a fan has with that brand?
Right. You’re looking for the scope in the experience first?
We generally do quite a bit of research to see what’s already out there in the form of pins, and what can we do to really make the design special and different. Then we concept ideas along with what the AR interaction might be. Once we have the pin sampled, we can start testing our AR system and fine-tuning the experience you get when you scan the pin. After a bit of magic, voila! you have a Pinfinity Pin.
I’m actually inspired! Maybe I should make some suggestions; give me a form! So, what was the first Pinfinity design? And what did it do?
Oh man… The first design I ever turned into an augmented reality pin was from a series I’ve named “Fair Weather Friends”. It was a lightning-farting cloud pin.
Oooookkkay. I’m writing this down… You said lightning-farting cloud?!
Ha! I did! You scanned the cloud-shaped pin, and – well, he farted lightning bolts.
It’s the way I want every brand to launch! And what areas do you feel are under-explored? Are there, for example, some brands you look at and think: “I’ve GOT to do something with that!”?
I’d love to work with a brand that has something in development, and test the waters with a pre-merchandised pin set… So super-fans can get these sets a few months before the game, film, or series launches. Then, each month, you could scan the pin and see some behind-the-scenes development updates. I think this would work really well with music artists as well.
Lovely. Moving forward, then, in what ways do you think Pinfinity can develop? What might technology allow you to do next?
We’re going to be launching 2.0 of our app this year. That has a series of new features and updates along the way, allowing face filters, 360 environment experiences and more!
I hadn’t thought about that – But yes… You can update the app, but you can update the content experience, presumably, too?
Right! The awesome thing is exactly that: the content you see on a pin can be changed, so when a fan scans it at a different time, they get a new experience. When we update the app, we can go back and add features into pins that didn’t have them before.
Pull: “The content you see can be changed, so when fans scan it at a different time, they get a new experience.”
So if I were to scan – let’s say, for example – a LEGO pin one day, it might show me stuff from LEGO movie. Scan it a couple of months later, it takes me to complete the new content?
You’ve got it! There’s no other physical collectible product out there that can offer digital experiences like that. It lets brands really tap into fandom and push new content to their fans in a clever, fun and still collectible way. The possibilities are PINFINITE.
Lovely! Listen, I suspect you’ll have people tripping over themselves to work with you so the last thing here is an important question: How can a brand or artist reach out to you?
Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and head over to www.pins.ar to check out our latest pin drops!
Awesome. Caleb, I’m so glad we got to do this… Thank goodness Billy and Adam launched a site to give me an excuse! Thanks for your time.
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