(From the FT Tech Blog)
Trust the Web 2.0 crowd to come up with a new take on boring offline business cards.
London-based Moo.com started a craze for its MiniCards when it launched last September, offering Flickr members the chance to print 100 business cards with up to 100 different photos from their online galleries on the back.
More than 3m of the less than half-sized cards later, Moo users are coming up with all kinds of other uses for them.
There is the chain letter, where the originator sends out 100 cards and the next person takes one out and puts in a different one, and so on. There are similar art projects and a Where is Moo scheme where an empty box is gradually being filled by cards from around the world.
Moo cards are being used as gift tags, wedding place-cards and even as Moonopoly sets.
Richard Moross, chief executive and founder, says he likes to observe how users hand out their cards.
“People use them like a gallery in their pocket. Very rarely do you see someone pulling out a single card, they fan them out or get the whole box out and ask people to pick their favourite ones.”
Business cards are 300 years old and Moross came up with the original idea for Moo in 2003.
“I realised that my teenage sister had more methods of communication – instant messaging, email, mobile phone – than my dad in his forties and here was the most successful networking tool of all time that was still here because it was so simple.”
“Consumers can create online avatars, but they are still scribbling their contact details on the back of napkins.”
The size of the cards means 52 can be printed per sheet of paper. So precisely have they been designed that changing their dimensions by a millimetre would mean a 33 per cent loss in gross margins per sheet.
Moo has grown by extending its partnerships to Bebo, Vox, Fotolog, Second Life and Habbo Hotel, allowing users to create avatar cards for example. Its latest innovation is notecards that stand up on a table or desk.
Other companies selling services on the back of the online photo sites include Qoop, Blurb, Zazzle and imagekind.
Moross’s ambition is to bring manufacturing of Moo’s products fully in-house and develop in the same manner as VistaPrint, the Nasdaq-listed online printing company that has grown to a $1.7bn market capitalisation