Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Young Entrepreneur's Earth Friendly Startup

With a mission to “invite” a greener future, electronic invitation service Greenvelope originated in founder Sam Franklin's dorm room. A Seattle native, the 21-year-old entrepreneur and Washington University in St. Louis student has always loved the outdoors, which led him to start his eco-friendly business.

With $50,000 in startup funds and 20 wedding invitation templates, Greenvelope was launched in late 2010. Franklin, who didn't come up with any sales targets or a formal business plan, hoped that a good product and good customer service would be enough to grow the venture.

And he was right. Word of mouth and Google helped generate a $2,000 revenue during the first month. By Greenvelope's first birthday, it had raked in $70,000. So far, over 300,000 invitations have been sent via the Greenvelope website.

While Greenvelope was originally geared towards the needs of engaged couples, Franklin learned from the company's sales statistics that organizations were also using the service for corporate events. The website now offers invitation templates for business and religious occasions as well.

Unlike other electronic invitation sites, Greenvelope doesn't display ads in order to maintain an upscale image and personal feel. Instead, users pay for the service, with pricing options starting at $19.99. The most basic package includes envelopes and save the dates. Higher priced packages come with invitations, response cards, thank you notes, and an event details page.

In addition to the many ready-made designs, clients can choose to upload their own graphics or work with a Greenvelope designer. Moreover, the site allows users to manage their contacts and guest lists, as well as track which guests have opened and responded to their invitations.

True to its green mission, Greenvelope donates a percentage of every sale to the non-profit organization Mountains to Sound. In the near future, the company will partner with other charities and customers will be able to decide where the donations will go.

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