Job: founder and chief executive, Moo.com
Industry: digital media
In the age of email and mobile phones, the old-fashioned business card was an unlikely inspiration for a burgeoning internet startup. Richard Moross‘s on-demand online print company Moo.com launched in 2006 and has set its sights on becoming “Hallmark 2.0”.
Having started out with trendy tiny business cards – anyone who is anyone on the web startup scene has a Moo card – Moo.com has expanded into stickers, postcards and greetings cards, striking deals with firms such as Flickr, Bebo and Fotolog.
Combining very new technology – digital media – with very old – the printing press – Moo.com is backed by investors Accelerator Group, Atlas Ventures and Index Ventures and is enjoying triple-digit growth in revenue. Based in London, it opened its first US office this year.
“He is a rising star,” said one of our panellists. “He is at the epicentre of Silicon Roundabout, a very good businessman and a real symbol of the London startup scene.”
But why business cards? “It’s 300 years old and despite wireless and Bluetooth and mobile phones, it’s still here, because it’s the single most successful networking tool of all time,” said Moross, who had never run a business before he set up Moo.com.
He originally had the idea for a “Pleasurecard”, a business card for people who weren’t in business. “I thought, ‘God, it’s wasted on business people. It’s just as applicable in the social sphere, and kids don’t have it – they’re still writing their bloody numbers down on a piece of paper when they meet people’,” he told the Guardian.
The cards originally came with a website on which users could store information, but Moross said “it sucked”.
Moross is rarely seen wearing anything other than the colour black, and once confessed to owning 36 black shirts. “I do like to accessorise with colour,” he said. “But there’s something reassuring about black.”
He has said he will move on to a new business within the next four or five years. “I think my work here will be done and I’ll have taken this to a profitable exit. I will have taken my unique blend of sarcasm and laziness to some other organisation.”
But a stock market flotation or buyout is unlikely in the current economic climate. Moross said at the beginning of the year that a downturn was not necessarily bad for business. “There’s less noise: with fewer competitors around jostling for position, customers’ choices are narrowed in your favour,” he said.