FT Interview

Moo.com, a Shoreditch-based start-up that prints customised business cards and other stationery using photos from the internet, was globally focused from day one: 70 per cent of its revenues are non-UK.

“The scene is booming,” says Richard Moross, its founder. “These are real businesses with real revenues and profits, raising huge amounts of money. E-commerce is a real thing – it wasn’t 10 years ago in the boom and bust.”

Moo, relaunched in 2006 after an initial version flopped, has doubled revenues every year and has been profitable since 2009. Mr Moross expects to expand its staff from 65 to 100 and launch several products this year. “London has all the raw materials to build very strong, global businesses,” he says. “It’s strong in the creative field, in banking, in design – in lots of core disciplines.”

The expanded research and development tax credit will help Moo, and Mr Moross welcomes the reduction in corporation tax and increase in entrepreneurs’ relief. He believes this should be widened to early employees of start-ups as well as founders, and would like to see all taxable gains from selling a business funnelled back into EIS investments.

Read the full interview on ft.com

‘My Moment’ In The Daily Telegraph

We asked 15 high-profile professionals about the times that mattered most in their lives, the times that provided them with singular moments – euphoric moments – that they would never forget . Here, Moo.com founder Richard Moross recalls when Mr Hankey told him he’d made it.

Interviews by Paul Kendall and Ruth Caven
Published: 12 Nov 2009

Moo.com founder Richard Moross: ‘My product sounded like some weird sex accessory’

For some businessmen the sound of success is the ringing of a cash register. For me it’s Mr Hankey, the Christmas Poo, exclaiming ‘Heigh-di-ho!’ in a high-pitched squeak. Anyone who’s familiar with the cartoon series South Park will know Mr Hankey. He’s something of a cult figure and his ‘Heigh-di-ho’ greeting is one of the most quoted lines among South Park fans.

Just before Moo.com launched on September 19 2006, someone on my team downloaded a recording of Mr Hankey and programmed it to go off every time we made a sale.

The site prints customised business cards, among other things, and when we went live, at around midday, we all sat in the office, eyeing each other nervously and wondering how long it would take for Mr Hankey to speak to us. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long. At the sound of the first ‘Heigh-di-ho!’ the room erupted. After that, the Mr Hankey recording went off pretty much every 60 seconds. It was like a dam collapsing, and a torrent of water rushing through. From that moment on, we were inundated with orders. Getting to that point, however, was not easy. When I set up the business, at the age of 25, I spent the first 18 months making pretty much every mistake in the book. For a start, the original name of the company was Pleasure Cards. At the time, the idea was to provide an alternative to business cards, for people to use in their social lives, and I thought: ‘What’s the opposite of business? Pleasure.’ But, unfortunately, in today’s world, the word ‘pleasure’ has been hijacked by the porn industry and my product sounded like some weird sex accessory. So that didn’t work.

In 2006, I completely transformed my business model. I changed the name to Moo.com: short, memorable, inoffensive.

As an entrepreneur you have to believe in your product, but I had no proof that it would work. It was only when we flicked the switch and Mr Hankey started squeaking that I knew we had a hit.

Read on the Telegraph’s website

Interview in Management Today

The printing entrepreneur on trips to the US, hiring a new CFO, and Friday drinks on the terrace…

My week: Richard Moross of Moo.com

This morning I had a breakfast meeting with our chairman, Robin Klein, where I went through all the executive team planning for 2010. He was one of the first people I presented the business to in 2004 and he invested in the company later that year, before becoming chairman in 2006. We have a fantastic relationship, which is pretty lucky considering he’s our chairman!

I’ve also been busy preparing for the arrival of our new CFO, who’s joining us tomorrow. We appointed her last week and she’s coming in for a few days from tomorrow and then starting full-time from January. It’s actually a new role. We’ve been working with an interim FD for the last three years but now we’ve reached a certain size, there are complexities of running a profitable, high-growth manufacturing business. Now we’re manufacturing in the USA and in Europe, with customers all around the world, it’s important that we have someone with international financial experience who can help us manage our business in multiple locations.

Every day at about 5.30 I have a video call with our VP of operations, Brian, who’s based on the East Coast. At the end of every day (around lunch time for him) we catch up on how each business is doing. We will also talk about any issues in the US office or anything that they’ve made progress on. In addition, he’ll come over from the US once a month and I’ll probably go to the US once a month to see him. The business is more operational in the US; our marketing, product and technology teams are here in London.

Business in the States is booming: around 40% of our revenue comes from sales there. We don’t have all of our products available in the US, for various reasons, but we sell all our major ones there. We find the UK is more seasonal for us, in terms of the mix of the products we sell at Christmas for example. In terms of new customers that we’re acquiring, and growth, the US is really driving the business at the moment.

I spend a lot of time the other side of the Atlantic. We have partners who are based in the US – people who we do marketing with, or have other relationships with – so I like to check in to see what they think of the service. It’s also about the network – being a business that trades internationally we have ongoing relationships with people that we may form partnerships with in the future. I’ll also try to schedule meetings with journalists while I’m over there. There are also a lot of conferences in the US, including two or three major ones that I’ll go to every year – SXSW and Web 2.0 for instance. And I’ll sometimes go over for speaking opportunities too: for example. I’m speaking at the PMA10 (photo marketing association 2010) conference in California in February.

Also this week I have a catch-up meeting with Nick Jenkins, the chief exec of Moonpig, the greeting cards company. I met Nick for the first time when I was first starting up my business and Moonpig was still relatively small. Despite what some people may think, there’s not really any rivalry there. Nick’s company is consumer-focused whereas we’re b2b. So we sell to hundreds and thousands of small businesses, often in the creative industries – customers can be anyone from artists designers, illustrators, and photographers to tech start-ups.

Every Friday the entire UK team will sit down and have lunch together – and they do the same in the US five hours later. We’ll order some food in from a restaurant or a local market and will usually follow the food with a presentation or two on cool new things we’ve built or designed recently. Also, I’ll usually be there to give a brief overview of how the business is doing and give any feedback from the most recent board meeting. During the summer we tend to have events after work on a Friday as well. We have a big outside terrace, on the back of our office and we’ll invite people from outside the company to come and hang out with us and have a beer. We’re a pretty welcoming bunch. We’re very international too – there are probably about 10 or 12 nationalities in the company, which is pretty good for a 50-person business. One thing we’re very good at is hiring personalities. Everyone is quite unique and brings something different, which makes for a great blend of interesting people.

Richard Moross is founder and chief executive of Moo.com, a b2b printing company.