Remember the little thrill you felt when you were away at camp and a care package arrived from home? Three guys from Fairfield, Connecticut-once very enthusiastic care- recipients themselves-believe that everyone can use a care package now and then, no matter how grown-up you are. They took the old-fashioned idea of sending a little TLC in a box and mixed it with 21st century technology, and-voilà!-out came a business called carepackages.com LLC.
Launched in October 1999, the site allows customers either to choose from more than 100 ready-made packages that can be sent directly to friends and relatives, or to create their own custom packages from 500 available products. The selections, ranging from $10 to $40, include seasonal care packages, such as the Scare Package for Halloween, brimming with a variety of brand-name candy and a box that doubles as a jack-o-lantern. For the collegian, there's The Examinator, a study survival kit crammed with coffee, Ramen noodles and Visine, which any kid would give his right arm for during finals week. And the list goes on.
Brothers Mike and Ryan Moran, ages 32 and 28, respectively, and their partner, Chris Karl, 28, all tech buffs, noticed the success of online greeting card companies, which offer free cards for every occasion imaginable. "We thought 'Hey, let's build a care package for every occasion you can think of,'" says Mike, adding that this was also a way for people to cybershop for well-known products.
Before they could start the business, however, the trio needed a pretty big care package of their own-$1.5 million from friends, relatives and 11 investors.
Before they could generate enough start-up capital, however, the partners had to spend nearly $1,000 to design a prototype Web site that would convince potential investors their idea would float. The move paid off: In its first month, the company sold $25,000-worth of products by word-of-mouth alone. The company is now valued at roughly $15 million and sells about 1,000 very appreciated care packages per day. "Some day," says Mike, "we want to be the equivalent of Hallmark Greetings." At this rate, they'll get there.