For someone with a background in naval architecture and marine engineering, launching a greeting card company seems an unusual venture, right?
Not when you’re Wombi Rose, founder and president of Lovepop, a “multi-dimensional gifting company.” And not when the greeting cards, inspired by Japanese origami and Chinese paper cutting, open to reveal an intricate 3D design that’s way more art than card, more gift than greeting.
“When I first came across the medium, I immediately recognized the same patterns I had seen designing ships,” Rose explains. “It’s relatively simple how me and John [Wise, COO at Lovepop] transferred our skills.”
The pair, both Harvard Business School grads, launched Lovepop after a trip to Vietnam. There, they fell in love with the ornate art form of paper sculpture and realized the connection between it and their existing skill set. Not long after, Lovepop was born.
EXPERIENCE IS EVERYTHING
Between household names like Hallmark and American Greetings, the greeting card industry may seem like a difficult market to break into - especially in the digital age. According to Rose, though, the traditional card-buying process is ripe with opportunity.
“Everyone has spent that half hour looking through the [greeting cards] at the drugstore,” Rose says. “And you end up with something that’s not super special. It’s not super personal. It generally gets opened once and maybe tossed away or put into a drawer.
“That’s an experience that was begging to be overhauled,” he adds.
What makes buying, sending, or receiving a Lovepop so unique is that it goes way beyond “traditional”. Instead, Lovepop is all about the emotional experience. It taps our real, human-to-human connections and relationships - something key in a world where so many interactions happen solely via text message or social networks.
“No matter how many Facebook messages or tweets you can send, there’s something special about getting a physical thing,” Rose explains. “We’re really trying to help consumers surprise and delight the people they care about.”
SWIMMING WITH THE SHARKS
Tomorrow, Rose and Wise appear on ABC’s Shark Tank, where the nation will watch them pitch Lovepop for a chance at an investment with one (or more) of the show’s industry-leading sharks. The final outcome is still under wraps, and Rose was able to share few details beyond that it was one of his most daunting experiences to date.
“You get one shot and that’s it. You go into the tank, the cameras are rolling, and you know that the country is watching,” Rose says. “Standing at the end of that tunnel waiting to go [into the tank] was definitely one of the most nerve-racking moments of my life.”
Once Friday’s episode airs, the cat’s out of the bag and we’ll all learn whether or not Lovepop is the latest shark-backed, Boston-based start-up. Until then, Rose offers some words of wisdom for entrepreneurs and Shark Tank-hopefuls alike – advice that’s unsurprising from a man whose business is based on supporting human interaction.
“Have a really great team and really trust the people working with you,” Rose says. “The emotional rollercoaster [of launching your own business] is extreme.
“The only way you get through it is by having people who encourage you when you’re down and believe in your mission.”