A Melbourne startup aiming to bring the “warm and fuzzy” back to card giving has taken out the top spot at the Startup Week pitch competition last week.
Cardly is a platform for curated greeting cards designed by artists around the world, and co-founders Patrick Gaskin, Tom Clift and Mat Buttrey decided enter the Startup Victoria competition to see how a sophisticated and savvy startup audience would receive the concept.
“We weren’t in it for the prize,” Gaskin tells StartupSmart.
Gaskin’s family owned a newsagency and the entrepreneur was surrounded by greeting cards from a young age.
Wanting to disrupt the game of greeting cards, Gaskin started working on Cardly.
In addition to a selection of curated greeting cards, Cardly’s proprietary technology lets users doodle digitally in cards to add a personal touch before they’re posted via snail mail.
Retailing at $6.45 including postage, cards are printed on-demand at local postal agencies in the US, UK and Australia.
“Our ambition is to ultimately say that we’re completely carbon neutral,” Gaskin says.
“[We also] want to reward great artwork and artists.”
Cardly currently features 35 artists who get paid 20% instantly when one of their cards is sold.
Unlike Etsy, Gaskin says artists only need to submit their work online and the rest in terms of product packaging and delivery is done by Cardly enabling their artists to generate passive income on the site.
“We’ve been very selective, it’s very much a curated market,” he says.
“We’d probably top out at 50 artists.”
Wanting to know if more people would like to use Cardly and if they’d be willing to pay for it, Gaskin and his team took to the stage at the pitching event and just went for it.
“There’s nothing better than standing in front of 500 people and asking exactly that,” he says.
“We just wanted to see if we were on the right track [and] by winning we must be doing something right.”
In addition to more than $150,000 worth of consulting and digital services, Gaskin and his team also took away some valuable advice and questions to consider from the judging panel.
Zendesk managing director Brett Adam asked how they’d maintain their 30% growth profit margin.
Looking back, Gaskin says he could’ve provided a stronger response.
“I didn’t explain how we maintained that,” he says.
“We have agreements to print at a certain price.”
These mean that Cardly is able to have cards printed, enveloped and delivered by local postal agencies in various markets for a fixed price.
“Hopefully, it comes down overtime and margins improve,” he says.
Questions from fellow judges Eloise Watson and Caitlin Iles prompted Gaskin and his team to consider new product features, ways to leverage existing e-commerce platforms and partnerships.
“We’re in conversations with some,” Gaskin says.
With a pat on the back from their startup peers, Gaskin and his team are looking forward to reaching new ground with Cardly.
“Without any real marketing, we’ve built a certain amount of momentum,” he says.
“Now it’s about how do we get to that next level.”