The Place Card Pitch

I try to pitch you on the place card idea. Can you tear it apart?

This is the first installment of a focused series I’m planning on the place cards project.

So the first project I’ve decided to take on is one I mentioned in my “Six Product Ideas” post—an app that automatically generates place cards for a wedding based on a template and a spreadsheet of guests.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself: Really? Place cards?!

Really?!?

Yes, really.

In this post I’m going to pitch the idea as positively as I can and ask you to tear it to shreds. Let’s dive in!

Why Choose Place Cards?

In no particular order, here’s why I chose place cards to work on first, and why I think it’s a good idea:

  1. It’s a real problem, and a problem I understand
  2. It’s a huge market
  3. There’s a gap in the market
  4. There are great partnership opportunities
  5. It’s easy

Let’s run through these in order.

It’s a real problem (and one I understand)

As I’ve previously mentioned, I came across this problem because I had it.

Twice in the last year I’ve been involved in placecard-making for a wedding and both times it was painful. I knew exactly what I wanted—a site that let me create great looking place cards from a spreadsheet of guests I had—and it just didn’t exist.

Mindlessly entering data into a Word document for an hour isn’t the worst thing in the world, but on the days leading up to your wedding there are definitely better things to worry about. I know this because I experienced it.

Be your own customer

I put this picture here because I know you’re just skimming the headlines.

The fact that I’ve faced this problem myself is also valuable because it means I’m my own target customer. This means my instincts about designing the application are slightly better than if I’m building something for someone else.

It’s a huge market

I’m guessing I don’t need to tell you how big the wedding market is. If the average cost of a wedding in the US is $26,645 then I am asking for (probably) less than 0.1% of a couple’s budget. It’s nice to be able to talk about your pricing in terms of bowls of shrimp.

Here’s a quick table that shows a few possible revenue numbers based on potential pricing and sales numbers.

Price # Sales / Day Annual Revenue
$5 20 $36,500
$10 15 $54,750
$20 10 $73,000

Is 15 sales per day achievable? I have no idea but it doesn’t sound crazy.

This doesn’t seem like a crazy path to generating enough revenue to live on.

There’s a gap in the market

Many of the other products I looked into revealed competitors that were doing basically exactly my idea, but with place cards this isn’t really the case. There are loads of competitors, but they are all either serving a slightly different customer, or not as good as what I think I can offer.

Here’s my best assessment of the competitive landscape:

There are big print shops like minted.com and Michael’s. These places are behemoths, and they largely focus on delivering you the finished product, as well as serving your entire wedding experience (e.g. invitations, thank yous) end-to-end. I’m not going to be able to compete with these guys, nor do I want to try.

There are a few niche sites that do something very similar to my idea, for example seatingcard.com. Frankly, from what I’ve seen I think my product can beat them in design and usability—both of which I believe are hugely important to this idea’s success. I also hope I can market my product better than they do.

There are loads of designers selling printables, for example on Etsy or independent sellers like Download and Print. However, I think the experience of using these can be improved significantly by my product. In fact, I think the people selling printables are potential partners not competitors, and I’m excited about it.

There are great partnership opportunities

So here’s my vision for how I hope to work with the designers who are already selling printables.

My key value add will be the ability for a person to customize their layouts with their guests in seconds. I’m not going to be able to make the best designs, or do the best hand-printed thing, I’m just going to solve this one tiny problem really well.

My hope is that by providing this service I will also able to create a place on the internet where people go to get their placecards made. If I’m able to accomplish this, then all of the sudden I have a marketplace, and my site becomes a great marketing channel for designers to sell more of their designs.

So the pitch to designers goes like this:

Look, put your designs here. I’ll give you the same amount per-sale that you make on etsy and it’s basically free money and you never have to think about it. Also, if people download your designs on etsy, you can send them my way to fill them in I’ll give you a little kickback.

The other great part about this plan is that if it works I get a bunch of awesome designs on the site for free. This is important because I am design-impaired and have no idea how I would get nice designs on the site otherwise (without paying for them).

Just like Uber

Seems win/win for everyone involved, no? Just like Uber!

It’s Easy

Last—but certainly not least—I think building this thing will be pretty easy. As of the time of this writing I’ve spent about 10 hours on it and I feel like in another 10 I’ll probably have a minimum viable product ready to test with. And it’s fun, to boot.

Marketing it is a whole separate story, but that’s a subject for another day…

Now Tear it Apart!

Ever have a friend who was trying to start a business, and you thought their idea was dumb or their plan was bad but didn’t have the heart to tell them?

I believe that every failed enterepreneurial journey is probably littered with the bodies of friends and families who supported that person even though they knew their plan was terrible.

I believe that every failed enterepreneurial journey is probably littered with the bodies of friends and families who supported that person even though they knew their plan was terrible.

Don’t let me be that person!

So does this sound promising or is there a flaw in my thinking somewhere?

Let me know what you think in the comments! I would love to get your input on this, particularly the critiques. Don’t hold back. I promise I can take it.

—Cory

p.s. In my next post I’m going to talk about some of the ways I’ve tried to do outreach to customers so far (and some of the websites I have been banned from in the process). If you want to hear about it you should sign up for updates.

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