Two Australian sisters take on a new challenge as they share the inspiration behind their start-up e-card business, T.O.Y.
Having grown up in Canberra, Cathy Kinsella and Janice Parker are now based in Sydney where they balance family responsibilities and day jobs with a new start-up business. Kinsella is a part-time registered nurse and a mum of four children aged 14-22, while Parker works full-time in a printing and promotional company as an account manager and graphic designer. She is a mum of two children aged 17 and 20.
The idea for T.O.Y. (Thinking of You) came about from a simple idea. “I’m a prolific texter and every time I sent a happy birthday or thinking of you type text, I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great to have an app on my phone that allowed me to very easily send a beautiful card, instead of just a text message’,” explains Kinsella. She sits down with MiNDFOOD to share the details of their journey so far.
Share the story of your e-cards business and how the idea came about?
I decided after about a year that I should either forget the idea or do something about it. I discussed the idea with my sister, Janice, and she agreed to get on board. So we approached several app designers and settled on Bronron Apps to help us make T.O.Y e-cards a reality. Janice and I spent every weekend for a year designing all the cards and planning the design and flow of the app. We had three ‘must haves’. It needed to be stylish, really easy to use and good value. Many apps require the user to sign up or subscribe. We knew we didn’t want to do that ourselves, so we decided to make our app a free download with six free cards and then a once-only payment of AU$5.99 for all cards in all categories (except for one – Featured Artists category – which is a small in app purchase per artist). So once the user buys the app, they have a huge choice of cards for unlimited use, without having to subscribe. Every card has space for a personalised message in a choice of fonts, without the card looking cluttered.
Why do you think people enjoy sending and receiving cards?
Janice and I call T.O.Y. a “feel good” app. It feels good to send a card and to receive one. I guess its just human nature to be happy that someone is thinking of you on your birthday or for any number of reasons. We have had lots of feedback that the app is just so handy, especially when you have forgotten a birthday and need to send something quickly!
What is your most popular card?
From feedback, we have found that the “Uplifting” and “Add your Photo” cards are really popular, as is the “Blank Cards” category because of versatility for different occasions.
Have either of you had your own business before, what have some of the challenges been?
I’m new to business, but Janice has had a conference organising business in the past. Entering the world of App development and launching T.O.Y e-cards was a steep learning curve for us. As sisters and business partners, we work very well together, so the creative process is really enjoyable. The challenges came dealing with the technical issues and achieving the right balance of a clever app with useful features without becoming too complicated or time consuming to use. We simply kept coming back to the question “is this what we as ordinary consumers would like to use on our phones?” Another big challenge has been getting awareness of the app in the marketplace.
How tech-savvy are the two of you – did you build the app yourself?
The answer to that is… not very! When we first started the app business, our teenage children thought it was hilarious. Both of us only started using Facebook a year ago. We enjoy Instagram as its the perfect visual platform for creative business. We work with the very clever and innovative Aaron from Bronron Apps for the app development and ongoing updates.