Thursday, December 23, 2010

RibbonBook Founder Finds His Mission

What motivates business innovators? Is it their strengths and goals, or also their turmoil? This was the question I asked in my post on Tuesday, citing business strategist Rosabeth Moss Kanter and her theory that personal obstacles, losses and challenges can often be a powerful driver in the creation of businesses and social ventures. It's been a recurring topic on this blog, going back to businesses such as InspireNotes, and one seemingly answered by Scott Kurland and his venture, RibbonBook.

Scott conceived his service based on a simple principle: how to streamline the process of stamping, mailing greeting cards to all your family and friends? Most importantly, how to keep from forgetting important dates and occasions? With these questions in mind, he set about creating RibbonBook, a site that will allow users to prearrange the delivery of cards for a variety of events like holidays and birthdays. Currently, the Beta version of the site allows visitors to send free greeting cards via Facebook.

Once the site fully launches in early 2011, the $3.79 card price will include a $1 contribution to one of the "RibbonBook funds," philanthropic causes selected by Scott and his users.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the service, though, is its genesis. Recently, facing a variety of personal challenges, Scott struggled to find renewed meaning in his life. As he told me, "The loss of my father in 2005 was a real wake-up call. I was married the same year to my beautiful wife and have had two children since. In early 2009, I began to experience a series of failures that led to some difficult financial times and bankruptcy. After spending over a year struggling unsuccessfully with both job interviews and get-rich-quick start-up ideas, I burned out and found myself depressed and directionless."

After reflecting on his goals and passions, Scott found a renewed sense of purpose and mission in helping others, then combined it with his unique and inventive business concept. Now this self-described "serial entrepreneur" hopes to recruit customers to the cause with RibbonBook. We'll check in with Scott again in 2011; for now, he and his business provide a reminder of how helping others can often provide a guiding light in challenging times.

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