Foldees is one of the more interesting projects emerging from the Malaysian Web scene in recent years. In a nutshell, it is a greeting cards online store, but with a twist. Instead of employing a team of designers, Foldees is crowdsourcing its design function through the creation of a community of greeting card designers and buyers.
How Foldees Works the Crowd
Foldees holds series of contests to entice and encourage designers to contribute card designs. Each contest has a specific theme – “We are all Geeks” (held in June 2008), “A Comic Book Christmas” (September 2008), “The Game of Love” (November 2008) and its on-going contest with the theme “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Foldees community will rate design submissions for each contest to determine the winners (who will receive cash prizes).
For its first contest, Foldees chalked up 43,504 page views, 24,744 ratings and 1,992 comments. Out of a total of 189 submissions, 70 were selected.
Personalized Greeting Card
Buyers can buy either buy blank cards or customize the cards with personalized messages. Foldees will print the cards (using eco-certified paper) and deliver them to the intended recipients. Each card costs US$2.00. For each card sold, the card designer gets a royalty payment of US$0.10.
Foldees is owned and operated by Energon Sdn Bhd, a Kuala Lumpur-based company founded by Chak-Onn Lau and Alvin Yu on August 31 2007. According to Lau, they got a healthy dose of inspiration from Threadless, which sells t-shirts designed by its community.
In October 2007, it received the support of the MSC Malaysia Technopreneur Pre-Seed Fund to catalyst its development. Its website went live on June 15 2008 and started selling cards on September 07 2008.
According to Lau, Foldees will be releasing a new feature called @ddress to allow its users to send each other greeting cards without the need of mailing addresses. Also, the site will embrace Facebook Connect and other social networking tools to further ‘socialize’ its platform (Author note: Looking forward to see Foldees on Twitter soon).
The Wisdom of Crowd
Crowdsoucing is increasingly popular in various sectors, from music (e.g. Sellaband) to book (e.g. James Patterson’s AirBourne) to search (e.g. Google SearcWiki) to galaxy probing (e.g. Galaxy Zoo 2. Foldees does seems to make crowdsourcing work. Today, it has over 1,300 registered users with a total of 170 designer greeting cards in its inventory. In addition to generating card designs, it also relies on its community to counter design plagiarism and rip-offs. There may be some wisdom in the crowd, after all.
Greeting Cards by the Foldees Crowd