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Start-Up Plays its Cards Right

Published on: February 2nd, 2011

With fresh ideas and a catchy name in hand, business partners Joel Wishkovsky and Chad McGimpsey set out for Boulder last April to start their new company, Card Gnome. Although the market for cards is dominated by major names like Hallmark, they had an original idea for the already successful online-only startup business: green cards.

The big launch for Card Gnome happens to be Valentine’s Day, for which they have more than 100 different designs to choose from. Considering the greeting card business is an $11 billion industry, made up of roughly 1,000 companies, what is so special about a new greeting card company?

“All of our cards are eco-friendly,” Wishkovsky said. “We use all recycled paper, organic ink and are 100 percent wind powered.”

With a growing demographic of environmentally conscious consumers, of course an eco-friendly greeting card company will be welcomed with eager, green hands. Along with keeping up eco-friendly appearances, Card Gnome promises a three-day delivery for all ordered cards within Colorado and across the U.S.

This has proven more difficult than Wishkovsky first projected, but with some refinement they are now running smoothly, save a few bumps here and there. All of the cards are printed in Fort Collins and are driven to the Loveland USPS daily, where this month they are given a special Valentine’s Day stamp that is sure to pull on the heartstrings of your lovey-dovey just in time for the holiday.

Each card can be personalized with your own mushy terms of endearment and sent on their way. Not only is the fast-delivery green card business embraced by the customers, Wishkovsky said the designers are gaining interest too.

Card Gnome represents more than 50 card “shops.” Each shop includes several designers who upload their art onto the website to be printed onto cards. Featured artists from all over the U.S. are chosen to upload their artwork for free, with compensation for every card that is sold. One of Wishkovsky’s favorite aspects about Card Gnome is that this new, sustainable business “creates value for the artists, customers and employees.”

“My favorite artwork right now is from Fresh Bunch, a licensing organization that represents about 15 artists,” Wishkovsky said.

With high-quality, cool designs, Fresh Bunch, and many other artists will inspire warm fuzzies in anyone’s heart this Valentine’s, with many styles of art to choose from. All artists can apply to cardgnome.com and submit their designs for free. Wishkovsky and McGimpsey then work with a reviewer who recommends which artwork is good. Once an artist becomes established on their site, they can upload any artwork they want to be printed on cards.

With a lot of independent card designers in its fleet, Card Gnome is well on its way to becoming an overnight success; although, it didn’t happen quite over night.

“It’s taken us about six months to build the site, and we’re now at the stage where we can finally get our name out there with this Valentine’s Day launch,” Wishkovsky said.

Although the two businessmen created the site mostly by themselves, they attribute a lot of their early success to the Boulder city folk.

“As a community-based city, Boulder really likes to help people (in startup businesses), and without that guidance, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Wishkovsky said.

To follow Joel and Chad’s blog about their new business, check out cebacosoftware.com. Also for fervent artists, explore CardGnome.com for how to set up your own shop.

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