VideoPak is a product brought to you by Fuse Innovation.
With Fuse offices and VideoPak partners around the world, we truly are a global leader for the design, development and manufacture of VideoPak, video brochures, video greeting cards, presentation boxes, point of sale and other forms of LCD screens fused into print and packaging.
We created this concept in 2009 and are the pioneering innovator of the Video in Print format for brochures, boxes, mailers, point of sale, business cards and more. As a trusted global market leader of video brochure design and development, our vast client base and order history is testament to our expertise.
Our knowledge and experience as a video brochure manufacturer has allowed us to offer a truly global service and a product that is advanced in class and quality.
My business partner Praddy and I have been running Fuse together for nearly 10 years. Before that, for 10 years, back when we were Amstore, James and I ran the company together under Praddy’s watchful eye at the sidelines.
Our offices moved from Tower Bridge in the early days, to London Bridge and then to Harrow on the Hill.
We have evolved from a CD & DVD manufacturing company producing in the UK and Europe, to a USB / SD card production company manufacturing predominantly in China with customers in the UK and the USA, to now, a company specialising in premium tech-in-print marketing/communication products with a global supply chain and clients all around the world.
Before starting (what is now) FUSE Innovation, my background was creative packaging. I worked for the world’s biggest creative packaging company for the entertainment industry.
We made creative packs for all the big Music, Film and Games companies back in the day when we were excited about buying games, Music CDs and DVDs and Vinyl in stores like Tower Records, HMV and Woolworths.
I vividly remember the excitement back in summer of 2010 of finding a little unknown technology company in China that produced little, thin TFT LCD screens and buying a handful and bringing them back to the UK.
With these LDC screens in my hand I spent days and weeks with a scalpel, double sided tape and piles of different thickness grey-board. I was trying to figure out the best way to embed this self-powered video technology into print in a way that could be scaled up so it could potentially be produced in quantity.
After many weeks of grunt work, trial and error (and picking the brains of some industry experts), the Eureka moment happened and I triumphantly thrust up in the air this brand new thing called…
“Video screen thingy that’s embedded in print and plays back video in the hand without any need for connection to the internet or mains power and has NAND Flash technology so videos could be reloaded and also a rechargeable battery so it could be reused and also had buttons so you could change the video and adjust the volume.”
I was giddy with excitement and straight away admitted that the above name wasn’t overly catchy and probably needed shortening. So I set out to think of a name for it.
Whilst at the big packaging company that I worked for (AGI if you’re interested to know), they created what was a revolution at the time; a product called the DigiPak – a packaging format for CD and DVD that was a fusion of printed card with a plastic tray for the disc to sit in. Before the DigiPak, CD and DVD packaging was all plastic based cases with printed paper parts inserted into the cases.
The DigiPak changed things. It was brilliant. It was revolutionary.
So I pinched part of its name and decided to call my weird little video play back device thingy “VideoPak”. Had a nice ring to it. Was short and sweet and easy to remember. So I went with it!
I then remember thinking “OK, so I have this cool, new little product in my hand, that has never been seen one before as they don’t exist in the world (until now)… So now I need to start telling people about it and educating them about what it is, how it works, why they need it in their lives… the features and benefits and all that rather boring (but necessary) business lingo stuff.”
❌ I didn’t have a website.
❌ I didn’t have a price list.
❌ There wasn’t a range of products to choose from.
There was just one version – I decided on A5 landscape for various design and cost reasons.
I picked up the phone and started calling customers to tell them about this new product innovation called “VideoPak”.
✔️ Around a dozen or so people were interested to have a look.
✔️ Everyone seemed to like it.
But everyone was worried about being the guinea pig – spending out on something new and worrying about the risk.
However, sometimes, every now and then, you meet a business maverick. Someone that WANTS to be the innovator and risk taker.
In this instance it was the production manager at Warner Music who said he is about to launch this new artist in the UK and that he will be a future star destined for great things. He would like to give out some of these packs to the VIP attendees of the artist showcase in London.
The artist…. Bruno Mars.
I said “Thanks”
He said “Great”
I asked “When is it”
He said “Two weeks”
I said “OK”
and then did what any good, respectable businessman would do…
Accepted the order without having a clue if I could make them that quickly and then walked out of the meeting and sh*t myself.
I felt instant fear and panic over how I was going to get these produced in time. Surely it wasn’t possible.
☑️ I hadn’t properly sorted my supply chain or workflow (although I had plenty of contacts and friends in the industry that I knew would help me out)
☑️ I hadn’t created the print templates or cutters
☑️ I hadn’t finalised product spec with my tech partners in China.
☑️ I hadn’t married the whole process together so the VideoPak thingy could be mass-produced yet.
In short, there was no past experience to draw from and there was no production efficiency lined up whatsoever. Schoolboy error.
“What the hell was that artist manager thinking!” I thought to myself.
How dare he like the packs so much and place an order on the spot without giving me enough time to figure out how to get them made in such a short time.
But hang on, this is now my problem. And what a real problem it was.
The next day he paid for the goods and told me he would see me in two weeks and that the artist launch was at the Café de Paris in London. The packs needed to be there by 7pm latest.
The next two weeks were a bit of a blur.
✔️ Lots of phone calls to China. And my print team.
✔️ A few more prototypes being smashed out.
✔️ Design Templates and Cutters being made.
✔️ Incorrect 1st off’s… in the bin they go.
✔️ One after the other.
💥 BOOM Nailed it!
😅 The inner tech came in from China 2 days before the delivery date.
😅 Print was laminated and cut out on the day of delivery.
😅 Bruno Mars Videos were loaded just a matter of hours before.
😅 Production team on standby to assemble them all taking extra care to assemble with utter perfection.
🚂 6:30pm I’m on the train from London Bridge to Leicester Square. I remember it was a cold dark evening, gloomy and raining. Leicester Square was busy as I made the short run from the station to the venue. I was nervous and excited.
I burst into Café de Paris to a fiesta of bright lights and loud music. A party atmosphere with a buzzing vibe of excitement and anticipation. Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of this future star.
I hand delivered the box to my guy. He peeked inside and said “great, stick them over there”.
I stayed and watched. Bruno Mars was incredible, just like he had promised.
And I left, went home and had one of the best night’s sleep I have ever had.
The next morning I called to see how the rest of the night went and if the packs were well received.
To be honest I was nervous.
🤷♂️ Did they work? 🤷♂️ Did they play? 🤷♂️ Did they fall apart in their hands?
Honestly – back then, the tech was a million miles from what it is today.
😠 The buttons were small and hard to press.
😠 You had to press and hold the on/off button to turn it on. Sometimes they turned on, sometimes they didn’t.
😠 We hadn’t created the magnet auto on/off or light sensor version yet.
😠 The USB recharger was a weird size.
😠 The screen a weird shape (aspect ratio).
😠 I cut a hole out where the speaker was to be sure the sound was optimised and covered it with a weird tin foil type material.
😠 The buttons were cut out to try and enhance the contact feedback.
He said “they went down a F***ing storm”.
I was over the moon. I recall doing a little dance like this:
And we all saw what happened to Bruno Mars over the next few years.
Want to see the pack…?
OK, here you go.
Every time I see this in my sample cupboard I smile. I think back of the fun the team and I had making this first order and developing the first prototype just a few weeks beforehand.
I can still smell the ink on the press at the printers when I went to check the first prints off the line. I remember the nervous feeling in my stomach for two weeks straight.
And that feeling didn’t go away for a while because soon after, I sent an email out to my customers saying “check out this new product we just made for Warner Music / Bruno Mars” and the phone rang off the hook for the next couple of years.
✔️ I did eventually build a Website
✔️ Amstore became Fuse Innovation
✔️ I finally created a price list.
✔️ I streamlined the manufacturing process and changed how and where the packs were produced.
✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️ And we designed countless iterations of the VideoPak from tiny to huge.
And over the next several years, the team and I worked tirelessly to push the envelope on the product and developed:
This product innovation that started from a spark of intrigue whilst handling a bit of technology in a hot, crowded exhibition in China in summer of 2010 has opened doors for dozens of my competitors to embrace the technology and the product innovation.
They have also jumped on the ride to offer the product, and also quite a few competing factories were born in China on the back of this idea.
They didn’t have to endure or think about the challenge of educating the world and initially promoting this new format that we did. All the others got to enjoy slipping effortlessly into my slipstream, the lucky blighters.
I will say I spent a pretty penny and a huge amount of resources investigating it, but decided not to for various reasons.
I wish them all luck.
However, with a twinkle in my eye I know that none of them would have had the same story to tell about the product that I do.
I wish to thank every single customer that has ever shown an interest in our products and what we do as a company.
Thank you to every single person and business that has dared to do something a little different and push out their envelope of creative marketing just a little further.
Thank you for trusting us to help you with your marketing and communications.
At our core, FUSE is just a cheeky little underdog of a company that dared to think differently and that tries to always be one step ahead of our competition by creating solutions that others do not.
It has been a very tough couple of years surviving through this pandemic, and like millions of other businesses, we have found it hard.
I hope and pray things are picking up for everyone out there. That all businesses big and small can finally punch this pandemic on the nose and stick two fingers up to it and say “I survived through you and persevered through this challenging time”