A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: Smilebox, based in Redmond
Who: Andrew Wright, 45, founder and CEO
Mission: Enable family and friends to share life’s special moments.
Instant party: A Smilebox resembles a flipbook and can be built using one of about 650 templates. It can be created quickly using still photography, video, sound and text. The finished product sits on the server (www.smilebox.com) and can be directed to the recipient through a direct link. Recipients can leave comments about the presentation or the event to share with all viewers.
Most Read Business Stories
- The penthouse atop Smith Tower is on the rental market for the first time
- Downtowns will be back, but Seattle has choices to make
- Washington state ‘literally failed workers,’ and fixing the unemployment system won't be easy
- Boutique cruise line Windstar will move its Seattle headquarters to Miami
- J&J’s 1-dose shot cleared, giving US 3rd COVID-19 vaccine
Warm and fuzzy: Wright said a Smilebox has an emotional component lacking in online greeting cards. “We build a connection between the sender and the recipient that you don’t get from a long link that leads to a random Web site that has no personal message,” he said. “This technology enables these very real emotions to happen. Our users can preserve what they create, share it, or both.”
Financials: Since it started in 2005, the company has raised about $14 million and has burned through about half of that. It has yet to be profitable. Customers have three choices: The free service contains advertising, and the premium service, which includes faster response, full-screen viewing and the ability to print, is available either à la carte or by subscription. Many people will pay. “If you send a Valentine, you don’t want it to include advertising,” Wright said.
Future shot: In a recent review of the business plan he wrote in 2005, Wright determined he’s met most of his goals and avoided surprises. Except one: ” … we did not predict the popularity of scrapbooking. While this surprised us, it fit into the culture we were trying to create with Smilebox.”
Open-minded: Wright said he is not autocratic. “I am not a top-down CEO,” he said. “I am the coach of a team of talented people. I can recommend an action, but it has to be vetted. We have created a culture of transparency and collaboration.”
— Charles Bermant