In many cases, what you study in college matters not when you’re finally in the real world. Just ask 26-year old Kyle Miller of Casper, Wyoming – the founder of online greeting cards company BlueBirdCards.com (www.bluebirdcards.com) graduated with a degree in kinesiology and health promotion, but it’s not, well, currently useful.
After graduation, Miller spent some time helping his parents out at their automotive restoration shop S&L Classics, and enjoyed working with customers and learning different aspects of running a business. He had helped them build a nice website, earning praise for it, but it was then that he entertained the idea of starting a gift card business. One particular day, Miller was shopping for Mother’s Day presents with his dad when they passed a card shop. His dad remarked that they should get a card, and an idea suddenly hit the younger Miller – wouldn’t it be nice if the cards just came in the mail? This inspiration was the basis for BlueBirdCards.com.
“The idea is that you don’t have to remember to stop and get a card or even to send it. My business does it all for our customers,” Miller explains. He says that many people still loved receiving greeting cards in the mail, but likewise a large number of them hated the tedium of sending these cards out. “My service is tailored for anyone who wants to just sit down and send a real greeting card from their computer.” The service is easy to use – for the express option, all that is required is to enter the occasion date, select the type of card, pick the tone of the card (funny or loving, for example), and input an address. BlueBirdCards.com even adds the customer’s signature to the card, as well as a note. Alternatively, customers can just purchase a blank card.
Possibly the most useful feature of the service? The ability to schedule to send a card in advance – so you won’t forget to do so (for your wedding anniversary, for example) when the time comes. “All you do is schedule the date and what card you want, we will remember for you sending the card out so it comes right on time. With our system a few clicks and we send out the card to the recipient,” says Miller.
Starting BlueBirdCards.com took Miller a lot of research on the greeting card industry, as well as finding suppliers who’d work with him. Miller started by building the site himself, but realized he was far better off hiring a web design company to build it for him while he concentrated on building the business. “That was probably the most frustrating part of starting up my business because I did not have total control,” he reveals. “Waiting for the web builders was quite trying also because I just sat on my hands and had to wait on them instead of making sales right away as I had envisioned.”
Another challenge, Miller admits, was getting people to know that his service exists since it started late November. But he says it’s all part of starting up.
“The most exciting part (of being an entrepreneur) is that I actually took the initiative to start something on my own and build it myself,” Miller says. “Entering in the business world is quite daunting but that is what I like most about running my own business I make the rules and run my business like I want. The greatest benefit of running my own company is that I don’t do the same job every day, something is always new and different each day.”
BlueBirdCards.com is currently self-funded; Miller gets rent-free office space in one of the buildings in his family’s business.
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Miller says entrepreneurship is fun and exciting but very difficult at the same time, and an entrepreneur needs be able to work for himself/herself and stay on track. “I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to build my own company and see where it will take me,” he reflects. “When I had the idea for starting up I was quite cautious and afraid of jumping in but I kept telling myself that if nothing is ventured nothing will be gained. The biggest piece of advice I have is you have to make the leap and try something out.”
Miller, armed with an education in kinesiology – and with absolutely nothing to do with e-commerce – is living exactly that.