Our Story:
A Battle Against Boring Photos.

It all started when Kari, a professional art director had his first child.

Kari wanted to delight his grandparents and relatives with cool photo prints of the newborn. He wanted those gifts to have a personal touch and deliver the same emotion of joy and happiness that his first child had brought to him. Despite turning the internet upside down, he just couldn’t find a single shop that offered personalized photo prints that he was searching for. So, he had to make them by himself.

Kari started creating artworks of his firstborn by clipping off the background of the photo and mixing graphic design elements and different effects with photoshop. What came out was something AMAZING; the child was shining like a superstar in a unique, one of a kind photo artwork.

PICTURES: Artworks (and kids) by Kari. Photos by Matti.

Soon Kari’s friends and relatives were sending their photos to him so that he could do his magic to their photos as well. At this point Kari realized that this might be the chance to do something that he’d been dreaming of: To start his OWN BUSINESS!

To make the dream come true, he contacted his good friend Matti who was a commercial photographer and an entrepreneur. Matti saw the potential straight away and together they founded a company based on a new “photo artwork” concept. The following years were used validating the business idea and growing the company. In the beginning Matti was taking photos and getting customers, Kari was in charge of creating visual themes and their computers were running photoshop automated actions 24/7 – daytime at the office, evenings at home and even sometimes in the trunk of a car.

PICTURES: Matti and his photo team in action with sport juniors.

The company grew very rapidly and soon had more than 50 photographers taking photos all over Finland. Families loved these stylish, customized photos and decorated their homes with the photos instead of storing them into folders for the future generations to see.

After selling photos with over $3M, the friends had their Sinatra moment. “If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere”... In other words, why be local when you can go global? Following this eureka moment, the company's roadmap was written in the stars! Convinced that this was their path, the friends decided to sell their local photo business and UPGRD took its first steps.

Today UPGRD is a VC supported software company that helps sports franchises and entertainment brands to make their fans superstars and sell more fan merchandise with the same magic sauce recipe than in day one:


UPGRD is an Icebreaker.vc portfolio company

Contact: sales@upgrd.io