Kansas City creative giant Hallmark’s newly announced line of video greeting cards is more than a one-of-a-kind product innovation — it’s the outcome of an extended startup partnership that was years in the making, Laura Steward said.
“In 2015, we won a Launch KC grant,” recalled Steward, founder and CEO of Kearney, Missouri-based VideoFizz, describing the former half-million-dollar Kansas City pitch competition and its Q&A section with judges. “The first question I was asked was ‘Does Hallmark know about this? Seems like it would be a perfect fit.’”
“The answer is yes, they know about it and it’s been worth the wait,” she added with a smile.
Click here to learn more about VideoFizz and to shop the Hallmark video greeting cards.
The new line of cards marries VideoFizz’s back end video acquisition and compilation technology with physical Hallmark greeting cards.
Watch a video below showcasing how the technology works, then keep reading.
Here’s how it works
• After you pick out a perfect Hallmark Video Greeting card, you scan the code in the card with your phone.
• Once you are online, you can add a name, select a song or attach photos and videos with your heartfelt message.
• You also have the option to invite others to join in, adding their personalized messages to the greeting, through a special URL.
• Once all the videos are uploaded, Hallmark will quickly stitch the photos and videos together into one video.
• When your loved one receives the card, they scan the code in the card to view, download and share their video on social media and through direct messages.
Hallmark Video Greeting Cards are available on Hallmark.com, in Hallmark Gold Crown Stores, and other select retailers. Hallmark is also offering a digital-only option on Hallmark.com where personalized Video Greetings can be customized and sent electronically via email, text or social media using the same technology.
“This is a completely new product innovation,” Steward described. “Millions of QR-enabled cards are making their way to stores as we speak. The solution is so elegant. You just scan the QR code in the card you purchased, upload photos and videos from your phone, and then mail the card. It’s so easy that my 87-year-old father is a wiz.”
Senders also can invite other people to add a video message or photos to their card with the push of a button, she said.
“That means the cards can be 1:1 for occasions like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day and they can contain 50-plus people for huge celebrations like retirements, anniversaries, and milestone birthdays,” Steward said. “I created my first card last week. I sent out the invite and had 18 videos back within hours, then I popped it in the mail.”
The card was for a friend who was receiving chemotherapy treatments and the group wanted to help lift her spirits, she described.
“Turns out she had spent the weekend in the hospital and when she got home the card was waiting for her,” Steward continued. “She said she bawled her eyes out and it was one of the most special things she ever received. That right there … that is what I hope we can do for everyone. Spreading that kind of joy to millions wouldn’t be possible without this partnership with Hallmark.”
The VideoFizz team is especially excited to be first to market with the concept alongside a partner with the history and reputation of Hallmark, she said.
Family-owned Hallmark Cards is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, employing 27,000 worldwide. The approximately $3.5 billion, more-than-100-year-old company operates a diversified portfolio of businesses.
“No one understands how to commemorate milestones, spread love and caring, or create a beautiful keepsake like Hallmark does. Working with their teams has been amazing,” Steward said. “It’s the place where some of the most gifted artists in the world work.”
And Year 6 of VideoFizz’s run sees some of the most talented tech workers coming together for a solution worthy of such a top-tier partnership, she emphasized.
“We’ve assembled a technology group that can innovate and iterate fast. The nimbleness is part of our secret sauce, and being able to work nimbly in a company the size of Hallmark makes for a great partnership,” Steward said. “The list of people I need to thank is lengthy. None of this would have happened without Eric [Goeken, VideoFizz CTO]. We are a team … There would be no VideoFizz without him.”
Steward also credited fellow Kansas City entrepreneur Davyeon Ross, co-founder of ShotTracker and DDSports, for inspiration along the way.
“As with any business, there have definitely been some lows along the way,” she said. “I always knew that connecting people to their loved ones and giving them a way to make that moment last forever was work worth doing, but sometimes when it doesn’t happen after Year 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … you think it never will.”
“Davyeon held me up and pushed me forward when I was struggling,” Steward continued. “I’ll never forget it.”
More news is yet to come, she said, teasing additional partnerships around the corner for VideoFizz.
“We definitely have a few things up our sleeves. There are some innovations around greetings still to come, and we are working on a concept for another $4 billion company to help their consultants market new products more efficiently,” Steward said. “We just keep the coffee flowing around here.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.