FOWA Notes: How we Turn Virtual Stuff on the Web into Beautiful Things in the Real World - Moo

Richard Moross and Stefan Magdalinksi of Moo

Richard Moross:

Print is Dead

The internet, you can't give it to your mum for her birthday...
Trad media has died. We're a new kind of printing business.

As my Mother once said if you love something set it free.

Our story

Who has a flickr account? (nearly everyone)
Who has moo cards (10%)

The challenges

Business cards, boring.
we wanted to build a remarkable company, to stand out.

unusual extraordinary, worth mentioning

We built our business around doing things differently. It's all in the details.

If you look in the usual places you'll get the usual people. 1 degree of separation

Berhane - software architect. The only non DJ
Came to the interview, couldn't understand a word he said except for: Delphi is a beautiful language. Give me the software over the weekend.
He completely reverse engineered the 3rd party software we were using by monday, we hired him straight away.

Business cards are 300 years old.
Qoop Mycards launched before us.

Same product. Card with photo.
Ours were a different size.
Ours are 100% recyclable.
Very high quality

we had 2264 comments in our flickr group Qoop had 2

Keep in good company

is a four letter word.
We pronounce it "free"

market online if people like it they'll buy it.
Decided to give away a million free cards. We've had a great conversion they've paid for themselves.
Taken up in 6 days. orders from 96 countries

We do all of our marketing at the beginning not the end.

hiding messages in the packaging. If you destroy the packaging you see:

Look you've gone and broken it now. No more cookies for you.

The email confirmation has personality.
The divider between the stacks of card.
Looks like a luggage tag.
Took 5 mins to dream up but people are still talking about it.

We needed a machine to do this. But there is no machine.
It has to be humans.

We could outsource this but we don't.

We are based in London. Not the US.

Coding, Printing, packing and posting all happens within 100yds.
Royal Mail delivers everything. Puts cards on the first available flight to the us for 80p.


  1. We run our business on outboard brains.
    All out tools are 3rd party, Skype, email source control.

  2. No Beta, no gamme, just permanently 1.0.
    We roll out 7 times a day. Never on a friday
    Driven by user feedback.

  3. Code (not too) recklessly but watch closely and fix fast.
    You used to be able to take your log file and play them back against your server
    If a user sends you the url you can see the problem.

No we use php error handling that sends an email to every developer.
The same thing for js. We also have another script that looks at the logs and every developer gets and email.
Unpopular at first.

  1. APIs are cool but dangerous

It becomes hard to check performance when authenticating against someone else's api
You are dependant on supplier uptime too.

  1. Don't internationali{sz}e
    You have to do it 100% or not at all.
    Made it so simple even non English users can use it.

  2. Do internationalise

We can ship everywhere in the world. Free products are free everywhere.
Japan, Nz 3rd and 4th biggest markets.
Unicode. Support within PDF is patchy.
Direction of languages.
No font supports it all.

  1. Give more by giving less.

We could have built an AJAX photoshop.
We wanted everyone to be able to be a designer.
We took out everything non-essential.

Happier users, less bugs.

  1. Our biggest problem:
    How to sell a 2.01D product.
    how can you convey the quality of the product online?
    We never figured it out.
    There's loads of flickr pics of our products.

The flickr group was an afterthought. Now it's key.

The best solutions to technical problems aren't technical they're human

Keep. Things. Simple


What have we learned.

Our customers are the most remarkable thing about our business.

Karlos, wanted to mount 100 cards for his girlfriends birthday. He documented the whole thing online. All we did was print some cards.

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