Meg Ragland used her stage time at today’s Emerging Issues Forum to call out NC investors who questioned her ability to build a high-growth company as a mom.
February 10, 2015
Plum Print Founder: Support, Don’t Question, Female Entrepreneurs
Asheville publishing startup founder makes call out to NC investors
She and New York-based co-founder Carolyn Lanzetta closed a $1 million seed round in January for Plum Print, a profitable company that turns kids’ artwork into coffee table books. The round was led by Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, a connection made through Goldman Sachs 10000 Small Businesses program.
Though a new investment group in western North Carolina called Asheville Angels participated in the round, just 20 percent of the investment came from the state. And Ragland said only in North Carolina did investors ask about the two mothers’ ability to really grow the business.
Her challenge: “Let’s get behind our female founders. I’m sure it will bring more entrepreneurs to North Carolina and we’ll see job growth skyrocket.”
For a fee that ranges from $85 to $425, Plum Print sends families an empty box and they fill it with artwork. Plum Print turns the artwork into a hard or soft-cover book, sends families a proof to approve and then ships the book. According to a January story in TechCrunch, the company has shipped more than 2,700 books.
Ragland told the forum crowd that the average kid makes 800 pieces of artwork before elementary school is complete, and it’s just too difficult for most parents to keep and preserve all that paper. The company will soon offer a digital archive, so parents can also keep copies of artwork through a software-as-a-service subscription. And according to TechCrunch, it will offer additional printed offerings, like postcards and photo prints, in the second quarter.
The founders are experienced business women. Lanzetta worked as an equity block trader at JP Morgan Chase and Ragland worked as an editor and writer for Conde Nast Publications and Hearst Corp. According to TechCrunch, the new investment helped them also hire a senior Google engineer to build out the platform.
The company was profitable within 10 months of its 2012 launch. And today, it is growing by partnering with schools and PTAs and providing a contribution back to those schools in return for sales.