Foldees is not your regular tech start up. We are not too sure if they are even a tech company.
For one, their so called CEO’s title is “Fluffy Vision Dude”
Their site have a very cartoony feeling to it and they are packed with creative folks.
The business model of Foldees.com is of such that it provides a platform for artist and designers to showcase their work in form of greeting cards. As a user you can vote for your favorite designer card or purchase these cards at the price of UD 2.
We recently caught up with Chak (Flurry Vision Guy) of Foldees to learn a bit more bout this company.
MYE: How did the idea of Foldees come about?
FVG : Well, if we’re honest, it started for me after Alvin (who’s now my partner) introduced me to Threadless T-shirts. after going on one particular binge, I realised that one of theT-shirts I bought had actually been designed by a Malaysian that’s when it hit me that talent is everywhere, and the best place to harness and distribute over the internet.
MYE: Why greeting cards?
FVG: Why greeting cards? Not a clue
MYE: When you the idea struck you and kept you awake throughout the night, what was the first thing you did?
FVG :Well, first I gathered up two friends that I thought would make excellent partners and met them at chili’s to present them the idea. I actually still have a picture of that first “company dinner”. They both liked it, so after that, we agreed to meet the following week to discuss it further and see what we needed to do. This discussion followed another, but at irregular intervals, so I felt the project needed some momentum because at this rate, it wasn’t going anywhere.
MYE: It is because you all have regular jobs?
FVG: Yes. So that’s when I heard about the MDEC Pre-seed fund, and made the decision to apply..It was not so much for the money, but for the deadlines and the structure would be forced to us. It worked leading up to getting the grant, we met once or twice a week, and that’s when our idea really solidified. It suddenly became something a bit more real. At that point in time, I decided to quit a very lucrative job in selling interactive advertising to concentrate full-time on getting Foldees off the ground.
MYE: So what did you learn from getting the grant besides keeping to dateline and stuff?
FVG: That the government really does want to help entrepreneurs. Mdec pre seed grant is a great initiative but I reckon that these government initiatives should concentrate less on KPIs and more on things that actually help, for instance – a proper mentoring system.
MYE: So were there any challenges in Marketing something like Foldees as you need to get both designers and people to buy your cards?
FVG: Actually that is our entire business plan. In terms of gettin designers, we recruit designs from designers using regular greeting card contests (A Geek Theme Card Content)and sell the designs to the public, with due credit (both monetary and recognition-wise) back to the original designer. It’s pretty similar to Threadless really except that there are some serious issues we need to get over to make it compatible with greeting cards instead of t-shirts
MYE: Was it hard to get designers?
FVG: No, not really. We publicised in places like Kakiseni, Lowyat, and KLUE and then a few blogs. It just went viral from there. We received 70 entries from our first contest alone.
MYE: And what did you learn from that?
FVG: Lots! From the big picture We’ve learnt how to run the contest alot smoother and that people usually only submit at the very last minute. We got half our entries in the one week we EXTENDED our contest. We also learnt that whenever you put a monetary incentive in place, people are going to try and cheat, which they did. Now we’re much better prepared for both those things this time around
On the bright side, we learnt that the design community really loves feedback, both giving it, and receiving it.
This is one of the main incentives for participating in In the first contest, each design got an average of 27 comments and some of the more curious designs even reached 70+ comments
MYE: That is alot of feedback. And how you managed that?
FVG: Well, all that AJAX stuff sure helped, no need for page refreshes. Just type, press enter and voila!
The easier to make things to do, the more likely people are to do it
We also set up a random ratings engine, that randomly moves from card to card, so people will actually more cards than they would otherwise have seen if they just clicked on thumbnails and voted.
Foldees is currently in the midst of their second contest which is Christmas theme which runs till 20th October 2008.
note: the card above is from the winner Emila Yusof. We like how it clicked. :)
Update: The contest is dateline has been postponed again to 25th October.
update: Chak is the Fluffy Vision Guy