The Pivot: How Moo Got It Right & Became Profitable

12 thoughts on “The Pivot: How Moo Got It Right & Became Profitable”

  1. When I first saw a Moo card (years ago), I thought “This is interesting.” And I kept it. Sort of like when I first saw a photographic-quality business card (I’d say this was back in 1995). Kept that one, too.

    Now EVERY out-of-work graphic designer has a Moo card, and it is decidedly boring. They all feel the same, there’s nothing really catching my attention. If a graphic designer hands me one of these at a meet-and-greet, I throw it out.

    My graphic designers have interesting cards that are hand bespoken, not churned out on a laser printer (toner? really?). Some of them include hand-wrought paper stock, silk screen images on top of offset press backgrounds. It shows off the talent of the graphic designer, and it’s real wow factor, rather than “ooh, you spent 5 minutes uploading something to a website.”

    I’m anti-Moo, and I can’t see how the company will really hold value as more people get the same attitude as me.

    1. AB

      I am sure you have your reasons on disliking the service, but they continue to be profitable so I guess they are doing something right and enough people are willing to buy from them on a consistent basis to turn them into a viable business.

      Your other points are well taken though.

    2. It may well be the case that every out of work graphic designer has a moo printed business card but I meet a lot of regular business people in small, medium and large businesses and it’s amazing how bad a significant proportion of these cards are! I think Moo therefore still has a lot of mileage left in their market.

  2. The Lessons from the Moo Story sound like trying to make mistakes on purpose. The first step shouldn’t be building a product and getting lots of attention (is this from a web 1.0 book?), it should be: figure out what people need and then build that. That is called customer development, and the Moo story sounds like an example of just stumbling into the right answer by luck. Congrats to them, I’m sure they are great and I hope they become really successful.

    1. Nico

      What if you could combine something that is want+need+attention. What the Moo guys did is a simple lesson – knowing when to Pivot and not stick to a strategy that was going to take them no where.

      My view is that either way, the company is on the right track. I am sure there are other start-ups who can learn from them as well.

  3. For me the lessons might be somewhat different.

    Richard is a design addict; he never let anyone come between him and product excellence. That is why he was embraced, and continues to be embraced, by the design community. He created a group of really dedicated early adopters who helped provide input into the product and act as evangelists. A great “viral node” on which to build.

    Then came scaling. It is true that first attempts were angled towards consumers as the way to express their digital identity offline. There are very large communities out there and you don’t need much conversion to get a sustainable business going. But it was the wrong place to go: better to “fill the recurrent need” of a business population that was tired of tradition and vistaprint quality.

    The key to Moo is that it managed to make business cards aspirational (kind of). With top design and great production quality, it made the business card feel less business and more fun and self-expression.

    I don’t think you can fake the authenticity that Richard and his team bring to the party. It may be a business, but i can tell you it ain’t run by the VC’s or for the VC’s (we are investors).

    As such its products fit a different need than what A.B. Dada is referring to, which is the standout card showing designer skills off, i.e. the card as elevator pitch. As innovations go slightly more mainstream, it’s up to folks like A.B. Dada to show us the next frontier (PS: don’t throw business cards out, you sounds like a snob).

  4. This is the first time I’ve used MOO services, for mini-cards for my friend’s bookselling business. The cards are brilliant, the creation and ordering process is clean, easy and intuitive, and the feel of the whole operation is first class. I work hard on my designs before uploading them, I want the printing part to be easy and I’m beyond impressed.
    Way to go, Richard.
    Slice and dice it any way you want, the niche you’ve discovered is more than just opportunity if you’ve passed the mark into profitablity.

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