For more than a decade, Threadless has been the place to go to get interesting T-shirts and other apparel, all of which have been submitted and vetted by its own community. Now you’ll be able to find and send those designs on greeting cards, thanks to a strategic partnership with a new player in the space called Open Me.
As a next-generation greeting card company, Open Me provides an interesting take on the category: While incumbents have over the years created their own editorial designs to place on cards, Open Me hopes to adopt the Threadless model of crowdsourcing its content. That is, the company will accept user-submitted designs and have its community vote on new ones to be added to its inventory.
It will then make those designs available to users both as e-cards — which are free — and as printed greeting cards, which will be mailed off to customers. Printed cards will cost $4 each, with Open Me handling all the printing, shipping, and handling.
Right off the bat, Open Me will have a library of designs to choose from, thanks to its partnership with Threadless. It’s getting a large number of crowdsourced content that has been contributed and approved by the Threadless community already, allowing it to make those designs available as e-cards and greeting cards to its customers.
The partnership also benefits artists by opening up a new revenue stream for those who have submitted and had their work chosen for sale on Threadless. Those artists will continue to get credit on all designs and receive royalties for work sold on Open Me. That said, the company also plans to open the crowdsourcing model up to its own users and designers over time to crowdsource its own content.
Thanks to the strategic partnership, Open Me will hopefully be able to get past the cold-start problem that usually accompanies these types of collaborative, community-led models. It’s hoping that Threadless will also send it some customers, as the apparel company will pimp Open Me out to its large user base and email subscribers.
Open Me is also looking to benefit by making its cards inherently social. While it enables the traditional one-to-one greeting card transaction — i.e. I buy a card and send it to you — it’s also rolled out a product that will allow multiple users to take part in signing and sending a card. Just as you pass around birthday or other cards in the office for everyone to sign, Open Me allows multiple users to virtually sign a card before having it shipped out to a user.
Ilya Pozin, founder and CEO of Open Me, sees a huge opportunity to provide an alternative to greeting card stalwarts like Hallmark and American Greetings. That’s because while sales of traditional greeting cards sold in stores have declined by about 3 percent over the last year, according to research firm IBISWorld, online greeting card sales have increased by nearly 20 percent in the same period. And it looks like that trend is going to continue over time.
Threadless isn’t the only investor in Open Me; the company has also secured institutional money from Rothenberg Ventures and angels that include Michael Liou, Dennis Phelps, Josh Pyatt, Ziver Birg, Chris Camacho, Amplify Partners, Nick Grouf, and Sam Englebardt. Open Me is based in Santa Monica, Calif. and has eight full-time employees.