Sunday, May 24, 2009

Why the name change?

Did you even notice? Here. Look at this.


Yup, we probably wouldn’t have either. Which is precisely why we wanted to change our tagline since June 2008 - “Designer Greeting Cards” to “the ongoing greeting card contest”.

Why? Well here’s the typical conversation when someone receives our namecard.

“So uh… what do you guys do?”

“We do designer greeting cards. It’s sort of a crowd-sourced models where we recruit user-created designs via mont-..”

“Oh! so you design greeting cards!”

“Uh no, actually the really interesting thing is that we don’t actually have any desi-…”

“Wow… that’s great. I’ll check it up sometime! Seeya later!”

“-gners on board with us wait where are you goin oh ok just check us out and ask all your friends to join our contest okay?”

At the time that we wanted the most all-encompassing name that didn’t restrict us, and yet (we thought) conveyed what we were about. I think sometimes running a business or a project requires a level of humility, so this is it. We made a mistake, and we’d love to do what we always to, and try something new for size!

So anyway, we decided to try the name change at Unconference in Singapore. And by golly, did it make a difference!

Conversations were so much shorter, and people were instantly interested in the concept!

“So uh… what do you guys d-… Oh!… the ongoing greeting card contest?”

“Yup! We offer cash prizes in regular contests that recruit designs from designers all over the world”

“And you sell ‘em online?”

“…and through retail, which we’re expanding on now.”

“Wow… what a fulfilling conversation! I’ll be sure to tell all my lady friends about you!”

“Sure thing, sweet cheeks. *spank*”

So, as you can see, the change is clear! Anyways, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Unconference 2009 – Singapore kinda rocks.

As those who have been following our Twitter or Facebook feeds might know, we recently got invited to a manic meeting of entrepreneurial minds in neighbouring Singapore called Unconference 2009. The entire Foldees team actually hoofed it down from KL over the weekend, and are now thoroughly exhausted, and thoroughly amazed at what an exciting weekend it has been.

The first thing that amazed us was the venue. Much as its name indicates, the Biopolis is a purpose-built bio-research facility. The minute to enter the compound (which is HUGE!), you get the feeling you’ve just walked onto the set of Gattaca (below photo courtesy of Henry Leong).

Here’s my best impression of Ethan Hawke at the ground floor of the Biopolis…


Hmm.. ok. Well, moving on.

The Unconference itself was held at the MATRIX block, and took up a whopping 3 floors! Despite being called an unconference, the event was surprisingly structured, with keynotes, breakout sessions, pitches and of course, the display booths, which is where we were. I think the whole naming thing is just to con us entrepreneurs into coming – which we’re damn glad we did.

Our agenda this weekend? Gain a foothold into Singapore, and launch @ddress. Here are a few shots of our booth, which consisted of two buntings…


…a greeting card stand with some of your ol favourites, and a plug to our contest!


And the smallest cocktail table EVER, where were were showcasing the @ddress function. We made our table a little bit less corporatey with our lime green tablecloth.


Also, we were giving out these wicked customisable stickers… Here’s one we gave to our neighbouring booth, fellow Malaysian startup,


In a nutshell, we were swamped! There were at least 4 people talking to both myself and Alvin the entire time, and the general consensus was that we needed to move into Singapore, both in terms of designers to recruit, and cards to sell! Despite totally ignoring the card stand (which we were incidentally selling cards at S$4.00 a pop), we sold a ton of cards as well!

We also made some very important contacts, for whom we will be working out some very interesting collaborations in the coming months, which we are unreasonably excited about!

If there was one key thing we took away from Unconference 2009, it is that us Malaysians could learn a thing or two from our Singaporean counterparts.

First, the organisers, e27, did an amazing job of not only organising this conference, but getting bigshots from Cisco, Google, SalesForce and Skype to come down and share their insights. This is above and beyond anything I’ve seen in KL, and great both in terms of exposure and education for us. Kudos to Mohan and the rest of his team.

Tragically, they actually made a loss on the event, due to a last minute cut in budget from a sponsor. So to those who didn’t want to shell out S$ for your tickets, shame on you (unless you were one of the awesome volunteers! Thanks Niyi for providing us loose change when we ran out!)

Also, the other startups were just jaw-dropping. From what we’ve seen, Singapore has a much more vibrant scene than our own, with loads of awesome projects, mostly from people so young it makes the Foldees team look like a coupla grumpy old men in an old pub talking about the good ol days. These guys have built up some fantastic products with minimal funding, while studying for their university exams! It’s absolutely amazing!

We’re gonna cover these guys instead of the more prominent ones that went for the pitch, since they’ve probably been covered enough in places like this. Rest assured that the pitches were almost uniformly excellent, but what I want to tell you about were the smaller startups that were no less amazing.

One such example is, a startup created by some very young people that is basically a social-media enabled jobsite.


How they differentiate themselves is through providing job-hunters with more ways to convince potential employers (integration with LinkedIn, video and music file linking), and employers with more information by which to make educated choices in terms of who they want to hire.

On top of designing this amazing site, one of the girls, Shuyan also has a wicked design for a wallet, which I wanted the moment I saw it.


And now, I’ve GOT IT! Thank you shuyan for SMS-ing me the details of where to get it after the event. Much much appreciated!


Another really cool startup we saw was, which acts as a sort of online version of a street-side portrait sketcher, except that they use vectors instead of pencils and a pad.image

They also offer those same vectorizing services at 25 photo outlets in Singapore! Yes, we’re already in talks with them about distribution of Foldees cards at those same outlets :) Also, if you’re curious, the name of the site was created specifically to make you snigger like you just did 5 seconds ago.


Further down the hall, were a bunch of really enthusiastic er… kids, led by this efferverscent Chinese guy named Casper. Yes, he was certainly friendly, coming by our booth 4 times to take the “I WISH YOU” Stickers. The first one I wrote for him said “I WISH YOU WOULD PLAY GAMES WITH ME” because that’s what Casper does, with GameMo, a company that specialises in Mobile gaming.

What’s really interesting about GameMo is that they offer both the option of Ad-supported free gaming, as well as pay-to-play, an option that most providers stay away from. This gives users the flexibility of Try-before-you-buy, which isn’t available at the moment.


Another really cool startup (albeit without a profit model) was, which can grab music from ANY site, and allow you to forever drag it into your own customised playlist, that you can share with anybody. HOW COOL IS THAT!?


The only problem with the site is no clear business model. Yup, it’s run by a bunch of really idealistic people, and we here at Foldees absolutely understand that. However, in the long run, you still need some cash, so you guys should probably hook up with these guys… cos they have a pretty good business model.


Lastly, but not leastly (if there’s such a word, which according to Blogger, there isn’t), is Foliohouse, ironically the first startup we met since they were our neighbours. The site’s not up yet, but we got a sneak peek at it.

Doesn’t it kinda look like Foldees except more orange? That’s cos the concept is very similar to our own! It’s called an Artist Incubation Project, and aims to use contests and events to recruit a bunch of designers to their site, and match those artists to corporate work (this is the part that’s not so much like us). We can’t wait!


Anyways, that was what we remembered from Unconference2009, which is probably at least in part due to the fact that we were standing and talking the whole day on 3 hours of sleep. To those startups that we didn’t feature, please don’t get mad at us. We need to rest too, so we can’t cover everybody :)

Speaking of which, we’re going to catch up on some now.

Ok Singapore, Good night from KL.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sell Out!

Barely two weeks ago, I blogged about how talent in Malaysia is being lost to other countries due to lack of local support. I also wrote that most examples of popular art needs to be validated overseas before it becomes a hit here. Lo and Behold, here is a perfect example.

Sell Out is a film written and directed by a fairly new Malaysian director named Yeo Joon Han. It tells the story of four characters – an unpopular but ambitious arts show host, an ambitious but unsupported product designer, and two wacky CEOs of the FONY corporation. Their stories are linked together by a common theme of what should be sacrificed in the pursuit of the bottom line.

And here’s the overseas validation.

WINNER - Young Cinema Award for Alternative Vision, Venice Film Festival

WINNER - NETPAC Award, Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival

Best Film of the Venice Critics Week 2008 --Italian Critics Poll, Cineforum

“a gem from Malaysia” - Gertzan Zuilhof, The New Straits Times

“A story of our time. … humourous, wink-filled comedy” - -Kong Rithdee, The Bangkok Post

"a film that involves and constantly surprises the audience" - Jury, Young Cinema Award

"punchy songs and comic routines" - Derek Elley, Variety

"the daffiness and enthusiasm are infectious… one of 10 best films of 2008 not yet released in the USA” - David Walsh, the World Socialist Web Site

"moments of pure brilliance that let you know Yeo Joon Han will be around
for a very long time"
- Matthew Tsang, Schema Magazine

"a film that (feels) really new" - Emma Engstrom, the Gotenborgs-Posten
(Swedish press)

"an infectious energy, brilliant at all levels" - Jean Noel Nicolau, Ecran Large

“Sell Out! is one week’s worth of laughter in 110 minutes” - Now News, Taiwan

"the biggest surprise of the festival!" - Taipei Golden Horse Festival

C’mon, admit it… you want to watch it more now, doncha? Well, here’s your chance to support the local industry, and have a darned good time as well. The movie’s currently playing in Golden Screen Cinemas all around Kuala Lumpur, so do be sure to catch it this week or next, because I doubt it’ll be playing for very long.

Our personal take on the movie? It’s a sequence of really well-executed, and really funny scenes. The cinematography, framing and soundtrack are fantastic, and the script is as sharp and witty as the actors. One thing we really liked about the movie was that it’s one of the few Malaysian movies to truly portray our quirky version of English correctly. Most other films I’ve seen always sound too American or British, or lampoon our version of English (called Manglish) until it becomes a caricature.

If there were one criticism to the film, it would be that it feels a little patchy sometimes with the way it weaves the stories of the four characters into each other, unlike Ciplak, which concentrated only on one guys story', and was all the more focused because of it.

Still, it’s a staggering achievement for Malaysian film-making, simply because it’s not just an arty indie-house flick, but the sort of flick that can entertain audiences at the Guangzhou Film Fest as much as at your local packed cineplex.

And that shows us, at least, that there is truly a balance between artistic direction and commercial viability. How’s that for an ironic lesson? Now if we could only get people to plonk down a tenner to watch a local movie.

What are you waiting for?

Sellout official movie site

Sellout Facebook Group

Thursday, May 7, 2009

BookBinder Designs


A few weeks ago, I got an email from a woman called Sonia, who owns a shop in Bangsar Shopping Centre saying that she was interested in getting a consignment of Foldees cards. The first thought that came to my head was “What the heck is a consignment!?”.


And that concludes today’s lesson in world domination. Anyways, as some of you might know, Foldees cards so far have only ever sold at the odd bazaar (really well, we might add!) and InQBox@One Utama.

Well, after we met Sonia (a lovely little Irish-Malay girl), we found out that she owns a small chain (well, two branches at least) of shops called BookBinder Design. It’s actually a Swedish franchise of stores, that specialise in premium paperworks stuff, like greeting cards, gift boxes, photo albums and the lot.

Here’s the front of the store, with the two very helpful assistants, Liza and Marina (hope i got that right!). I really do like that quote on the wall.


Walking around the store, we love the colours they use, and the in-no-way-random order that they’ve been placed in. Very nice attention to detail.


EVERYTHING is placed very very precisely where it should be. So much so that it actually looks like the interface for Photoshop or something.


If there’s one thing you should check out in the shop, it’s the notebooks, which are absolutely AWESOME, particularly these endless hairball ones.


Also, these giftboxes finally make sense out of throwing the gift away and keeping the box (which in this case, might actually cost MORE than the gift… *ahem*)


Wait, did we say greeting cards?


OMG! Foldees is now selling at Bangsar Shopping Centre! According to Sonia, since we put them up less than 24 hours ago, they’ve already sold a couple!

And next week, we’ll also be moving into Bookbinder Design’s other branch, in Parkson, Pavillion. Look out for that, and more as Foldees endures to come to a branch near you!

In the meantime, BookBinder Designs has been gracious enough to give us 25 x RM25 vouchers for their BSC store, which we’ll be giving to the first 25 designers to get approved designs for our new contest, Monochrome. So hurry and get those designs in NOW (only valid for people who are in Malaysia, unfortunately).

Be a fan of Bookbinderdesigns on Facebook!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Monochrome Greeting Card Contest (first 25 designers get RM25 Bookbinder Design Vouchers!)


Yup, it’s contest time again! This time around, we’re challenging designers to an exercise in simplicity, using only one colour (and black and white are not colours which means you can use black, white and one colour).

What kinds of designs are we looking for? Any kind! Although if you’re unsure, we’d probably prefer that you stick to staples like Birthdays, Flirty, Get Well, or Friendship cards.

Please keep in mind that we’ll be keeping an extra sharp eye on not just design, but card themes that make use of the “Monochrome” theme. The official rule for now is that the cover must only be of one colour (not including black and white), but the inside of the card has no limitations on colour, except the usual Foldees rule of strictly vector art only. This means you can go wild with plays on the names of the colours you’re using… like Seeing red, feeling blue and so forth. If you’re not sure about the theme, or need help with an idea for your design, do hit us at and we’d be more than happy to help you out.

Also, if you're planning on adopting an idea that uses copyrighted materials, please be aware that we have strict rules regarding the use of such materials. Be sure to read our guide regarding copyrighted materials in the FAQ first before submitting.

Monochrome was a contest suggestion from jayemcee, voted by the designers themselves through our Open to Suggestion initiative!

As usual, we’d ask you to submit your entries early, but this time, we’ve got something BIG to put the fire down your pants! In conjunction with the recent partnership of Foldees and Bookbinder Designs (more on this tomorrow), the lovely people there have decided that they’d like to support the design community by offering FREE RM25 VOUCHERS at BOOKBINDER DESIGNS, redeemable at Bangsar Shopping Centre for the first 25 designers who have successfully moderated designs in our contest!

Bookbinder logo

BookBinder Designs is actually a Swedish firm that sells really pretty stuff like picture frames, customisable calendars, photobooks, gift boxes and of course, greeting cards! Unfortunately, this deal only applies to BookBinder Designs in Malaysia, so only designers based in Malaysia will be given the vouchers. Yes we love the rest of you too… and will get you something for the next contest,k?

So hurry and get those designs in! We’re giving one voucher per designer, not per design, so multiple submissions will still only net you one voucher.

Check out our spanking new Contest Page at for further details! Submissions period ends 11th June 2009!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Winners of “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

*drum roll*

It’s time once again to announce our winners. First off, some really interesting facts about our recent contest.

  • For the fifth time, we have a new winner! So far, the winner of the Foldees contest has never been the same.
  • Every other winner in the top 5 has won a prize on Foldees before.
  • Foldees now has 95 designers from 29 different countries
  • For the first time ever, no Malaysians made it into the Top 5 (although one of our winner is a native Malaysian now located elsewhere)
  • Out of 42 cards, 8 were about star wars (what , no space invaders!?)

So, now that we’ve whetted your appetite for what lies ahead, let’s set the warp drive for “Tooth-pulling” and awayyyyy we go…

5. Kokuzo – Rabbit on the Moon (Prize: US$100)



A very cool idea with a difficult birth. Kokuzo (or Franz, in real life) must’ve sent this file to us a bazillion times before we ended up with what you see before you. The idea of an alien wearing a bunny suit is just so darned cute that it was damn near impossible not for him to win something this time around!


4. salchipunk – The Birthday Machine! (Prize: US$100)



Since winning our Christmas contest last year, our little Mexican friend has not stepped off the podium yet, scoring a 2nd, and now a 4th place. And it’s not difficult to see why… with his clean, cutesy, cartoony art style matched with an equally clean, cutesy brand of humour, Mauricio looks like he’ll be sweeping up for some time to come.

3. noelevz – Yoda’s Birthday (Prize: US$300)



We’re not ones to play favourites, or choose winners (we let you guys do that!) but when we saw this card, we knew it was going to be a winner. The simplicity of the play on Yoda’s inability to show age is perfect! As such, this placing so highly is once again proof that the crowd-rated model works just the way we want it to! Congrats Emmanuel!

2. Milkberry – Alien Probing (Prize: US$600)



We’ve said it many times before, but we absolutely LOVE milkberry’s art-style. Her cards are still some of our retail top sellers, and if you look at them, you’ll understand why. It’s a very confident, clean style that doesn’t try to be too shouty, but rather takes the approach of less being more. The wistful look on the bunny (why do Foldees designers like bunnies so much?) is a great example of this.


1. rocknrolla – Astroman! (Prize: US$1000)



And for the fourth time, has a new winner! Ladies and gentlemen, rocknrolla… who hails from Serbia! This design reminded me instantaneously of that awesome old cartoon series on Nickelodeon. Once again, much like the previous Foldees contest winners, it showcases a very neat and clean style, with a clear and simple idea conveyed across two pages.


A little surprise :)

Congratulations once again to our winners! Also, even though we did not reach our targetted 100 new designers, we have decided to award the SHOTGUN award to Mdavict for making it through with a total of FIVE kickass designs, most of which scored very well, and just marginally missed out on the main prize money! Well not anymore… we’re awarding you with the prize of US$200 for your efforts!

2009032618505303431971660650_mdavict - From A Galaxy Far Far Away (cover) 2009032618495602960781976685_mdavict - Alien From Outerworld (cover) 2009032618562900620250423973_mdavict - Space elefant (cover) 2009032618571101870901464293_mdavict - A Spacial Birthday (cover)

2009033117034300781020951901_mdavict - I Am Your...(Cover)

Congratulations to all the winners! We’ll be contacting you shortly. Just a quick note before we go - despite our international aspirations, we’d LOVE to see the revenge of Malaysian designers in our next contest, which will be announced tomorrow. In fact, we have a surprise incentive for Malaysian designers ONLY, so make sure you come back tomorrow to check that out!

Don’t wait, participate!