Going green with Greenvelope

| Scene Reporter

Correction appended below.

Have you ever wanted to start your own business? Did you let your age, experience, knowledge or savings limit you from beginning your own venture? Like many students involved in the Student Entrepreneurial Program here at Washington University, freshman Sam Franklin has just launched a company, and he did it from his Seattle home. Greenvelope, LLC, an online wedding invitation site, has finally arrived. Curious and wanting to know more about him, I sat down to hear his story.

Student Life: Tell me about your background.

Sam Franklin:I’m from the Seattle Area and have always liked entrepreneurship. Though I graduated from high school with the class of 2008, I deferred a year from entering Wash U. During my year off I ran a pressure washing company during the day and delivered pizzas at night.  The remainder of my time was spent working on Greenvelope.

SL: What are you most passionate about?

SF: Since I’m from the Pacific Northwest, I’ve always been involved in outdoor activities, as well as lacrosse. Seattle’s all about being green, and I’m glad I get to take a part in that.

SL: What are you currently studying at Wash. U.?

SF: Possibly Entrepreneurship and Marketing. I’m also thinking about minoring in Communication Design.

SL: What do your parents do?

SF: My dad’s an orthopedic surgeon and entrepreneur. He owns a surgical center.

SL: So, how did you come up with such an idea?

SF: I was reading an article by USA Today about people who have done e-vites. It sounded like a cool idea.

SL: Why wedding invitations?

SF: I identified an issue: people want formal wedding invitations but also want to be environmentally friendly. With Greenvelope, they can get the quality they need and save the environment at the same time.

SL: How did you come up with the name Greenevelope?

Actually my Project Manager, Zak, came up with it and I’m very grateful.  Our vision has evolved

SL: Was it necessary for you to take a year off?

SF: Definitely. It’s a full time job. Luckily there are lots of resources here, and practicing what you learn makes classes more relevant.

SL: Who is your target demographic?

I feel that young couples who have grown up in this internet age are more likely to use the service.

SL: How did you fund the company?

SF: During my high school years, I ran a pressure washing company and saved a lot of the money I made. Also, while I was at home I had two jobs, one of which was selling pizzas.

SL: What was one of the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome when creating a company of your own?

SF: Working on Greenvelope was very time consuming. I worked with two developers and two designers. This project taught me about time management and how to make difficult decisions. I also took out some loans for my initial funding.

SL: What sets Greenvelope apart from other e-vite Web sites or companies?

SF: My Web site’s very interactive, and there are no annoying advertisements. Usually with other sites you find many ads and tacky and limited [template]options. Greenvelope offers a wide range of traditional wedding templates. Save time. Save trees. Save money.

SL: How many employees do you currently have?

SF: Just two; I’m working with a designer and a developer. Later when the company expands, I’ll probably add more people to the team.

SL: How has business been looking so far? Are you working on any other projects?

SF: It looks great. I’ve gotten very positive feedback from some family, friends and young couples. With my course load, I’m unable to take on any other projects, but I do have many ideas for the future.

SL: Where do you see your company going in the next five years?

SF: I want to expand into other types of invitations—bat and bar mitzvahs, business and corporate events, etc.

SL: What advice do you have for entrepreneurial-minded college students like yourself?

SF: There are so many good ideas out there. Usually people are scared their ideas will get stolen. However, they need to talk to people. Don’t be paranoid that people will take your ideas. Being young definitely helps, and it also doesn’t mean you’re incapable. Effective communication and surrounding yourself with like-minded passionate people will help you succeed.

With that being said, go out and talk to people. We’re fortunate enough to have a great support team and to go to school with many talented and gifted students.

If you are interested in learning more about Greenvelope, go to http://www.greenvelope.com.