BLACKSBURG, Va. - Card Isle, a company in Blacksburg, is revolutionizing the greeting card industry and now they're looking to Martha Stewart to expand their business.
In 2013, Virginia Tech engineering student Stephen Sabo was taking a entrepreneurship class. In one of his assignments he had to come up with a business concept.
"So I said, 'What are some high mark up, high profit customer goods that would be a good business model to try and innovate on?' So I Googled that," said Sabo, co-founder of Card Isle.
Sabo said several things popped up, from alcoholic beverages to jewelry, but he says it was greeting cards that sparked his interest.
"Greeting cards is something that my parents had pushed me to write to people, to relatives my entire life," Sabo said. "So I said, 'OK. What can we do there?'"
Sabo and two of his classmates did extensive research. Adam Donato, another co-founder and now Card Isle's CEO, says they found that people had a genuine interest in buying greeting cards, perhaps even more so now then ever before.
"It shows you care, it captures that emotion much better than a simple like on Facebook," Donato said.
Donato says they also found consumers were frustrated with the traditional way of buying greeting cards in the store, because they could not find cards that reflected themselves or the messages they wanted to convey.
"So we said, 'Hey we're three engineers we can do this better,'" Donato said.
As a result, the three classmates designed and built a kiosk for greeting cards allowing customers to customize their own cards, and co-founded the company. The machine provides several options in fresh artwork and has the ability to personalize the message on each card.
"It captures all the value-added parts of sending a greeting card while eliminating and simplifying the more challenging components."
Now two years into their venture, Card Isle is expanding and getting the attention of national brands like Martha Stewart. They're a finalist in Stewart's American Made competition, which highlights American companies that embody pleasing aesthetics and innovation.
If they win, Card Isle gets $10,000 and even more opportunities to place kiosks across the country.
If you want to help Card Isle win the competition, go to the Martha Stewart American Made website, set up an account, and vote up to six times a day.
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