Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Article about Lotfi Belkhir of Kirtas Technologies

Local media always write better stories about local companies that those media outlets located someplace else. The story -- "His Story Turned a New Page" -- written by the Rochester Business Journal is no exception. But of course, what interests me isn't the information on Lotfi Belkhir, but the information on Kirtas that the article contains. Here are some facts from the article (RBJ, April 10, 2009, pp. 12-13):
  • Kirtas was founded in 2001 after Xerox gave Belkhir an exclusive license to emerging technology. (Belkhir, by the way, holds several patents.)
  • According to Inc. magazine, ranked #199 in 2008 of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.
  • 2008 sales were $14.5 million up from $9.7 million in 2007 and $3.9 million in 2006.
  • Kirtas has roughly 80 employees in the U.S. and two staffers each in the Netherlands and Algeria. (BTW Belkhir was born in Algeria.)
  • Kirtas has sold more than 200 units of its book scanners to customers around the world. It also leases equipment and has a digitization facility in Victor, NY.
Okay...so I can hear you say, "So what? This is only data on one company."

First, there are now many companies that offer book digitization equipment. From the figures above, I would surmise that the market for book digitization hardware is a healthy one. I know, not every facility needs book digitization equipment, but there is equipment now available to match each program's needs and price points.

Second, more people are becoming comfortable with the idea of automated book digitization. Kirtas' sales numbers are increasing and I would expect that other companies who have automated and manual equipment are also seeing their sales increase. Undoubtedly, Google's project has helped people become accustomed to the idea. In addition, the range of equipment available has helped people realize that they can obtain equipment that matches how they want their books digitized.

Third, let me guess something about the numbers above. I suspect that the sales figures were also impacted by Kirtas developing a range of options for organizations that wanted to digitize books and other materials. In other words, not everyone wanted or needed to purchase a book scanner. The option thus became buy, lease, or have Kirtas do it for you. (Or use a service bureau.) Need to digitize those odd-sized insert pages we see in books and other flat material? Kirtas developed the SkyView scanner for those materials.

And...yes, the article was really about Lotfi Belkhir and so if you want to know more him and his work ethic, I would suggest finding a copy to read.

Finally, I actually found this article quite by accident, since I don't normally see the RBJ. If you see articles on digitization hardware companies that you think I should read, please email them to me at hurst at hurstassociates dot com . Thanks!

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