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CafePress Moves Into Mobile Through Exclusive Partnership With Magic Moments’ Print-On-Demand iOS Application

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CafePress, the company whose flagship property allows users to design, print, and buy customized merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, hats, stickers and more, is making its first major foray into mobile applications through an exclusive partnership with Magic Moments, an iOS app that lets users access CafePress through their smartphones.

Magic Moments, whose app is four months old, previously used its own network of printers, similar to competitor MoPho, before that app was snapped up by Shutterfly in September. But unlike MoPho, now that Magic Moments has shelved its own network in favor of CafePress, the app isn’t just about the creation of personalized merchandise which you can buy for yourself or send as gifts. Magic Moments is about taking the entire CafePress platform mobile. In other words, the app isn’t just for personal use – CafePress sellers can use the app to share and sell their creations from their smartphones, as well.

According to CafePress CMO Joe Schmidt, Magic Moments came to CafePress, not the other way around, to ask about a partnership a few months ago. Since then, the two companies have worked closely together on the app’s development, making sure that the front-end and the back-end of the system work, before debuting the newly retooled Magic Moments app in the App Store just a few days ago.

Trevor George, co-founder and CEO of Magic Moments, added that CafePress was invited to consult directly with his company during development. Both Schmidt and CafePress CEO Bob Marino were involved from the very beginning of the project’s inception, Schmidt said.

CafePress’ involvement may include an investment, too. Schmidt took a long pause when answering this question, then said, “well, can’t disclose.” OK? “I was just running through all my SEC rules, so um, can’t disclose. Then, with a laugh: “We’ve supported Magic Moments in many ways.”

Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Magic Moments previously had $500,000 in funding from Michigan-area angel investors, George noted.

To be clear, Magic Moments is not just one of CafePress’ mobile application partners, it’s the only one. The app has exclusive access to an API from CafePress that’s not being made available to other app makers – at least, not at this time, says Schmidt.

As to why the company would choose to work with a third party on such a critical battleground as mobile, Schmidt explains that’s just how CafePress works. “We take mobile very seriously, and our mission, which is to be the world’s customization engine, has led us to find numerous partnerships where we don’t necessarily have to always be the lead horse,” he says. “But we also want to identify what we believe will be the leading applications and websites, and power their customization.” These relationships are managed through the side of CafePress’ business known as CafePress Services, Schmidt explains.

The move into mobile applications comes at a critical time for CafePress’ business, – its stock had tumbled 74 percent since its IPO, when the company released its earnings earlier this month. The company posted a bigger loss than expected, and forecast a worse outlook than previously expected, which saw stock drop 20 percent that same day to $4.96 per share. Today, it’s at $5.55. At the time of its IPO, the company had cited Amazon and eBay, crafts marketplace Etsy, and printing services like VisaPrint and Shutterfly as competitors. And now, like Shutterfly, which acquired a Magic Moments-like app earlier this year, as noted above, CafePress knows that it must make a move into the mobile app ecosystem in order to survive. (Its mobile-friendly website is not enough, cleary).

In terms of the Magic Moments app, CafePress charges its base fee from the products (its wholesale fee) and Magic Moments will set those items at retail to consumers. Currently, the app offers the ability for sellers and buyers to create or purchase the usual items, like t-shirts, stickers, key chains and magnets, but that will soon expand to include hats, mugs, bibs, tank tops, iPhone 5 cases, canvases, and even photobooks. These will begin rolling out in 2013.

The Magic Moments app is a free download here in iTunes.