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To all outside appearances Rustin Rassoli is your average teenager but the reality is that he’s anything but average. This enthusiastic young Texan has been making money online, investing in apps and build technology for the past six years — quite a feat considering he’s only sixteen.
Like most great entrepreneurs he’s combining new technology, personal experience and a contrarian view of the world to drive his next project. So what is Rustin working on next?
Where It Began
In May of 2015, Rustin was celebrating his mother’s birthday when he found a handwritten card she’d propped on the kitchen counter. It struck Rustin that with the shift to ephemeral technology like Snapchat his generation was used to receiving digital communication but physical cards were rare and that “when it does, it makes people feel so special.”
It was a lightbulb moment for Rustin and he instantly realized he’d found his next project — Greetale.
Greeting Card Market
Rustin realized that there’s still a market for people who like receiving physical cards. His own mother was living proof. In the early days of the web digital cards were a massive hit and the prevailing assumption was that physical cards would become obsolete.
Whilst the industry is shrinking it’s still projected to be a US$21B industry in 2020. In a digital world the tangibility and novelty of a physical card stands out and that’s what makes it an interesting market. New technology has also made it possible to create greeting cards in a way that you simply couldn’t before.
Rustin coupled this insight with his tech-minded approach to launch his next project. As Rustin puts it: “Now that we’re in an on-demand economy, I felt, why not create greeting cards on demand?”
How It Works
Greetale, currently available for iOS only with an Android version planned, fills the void created by the shift to digital communication. Users download the app, select their design and write what they want to put in the card. Unlike other greeting cards, the app is predicated on the concept of using your handwriting to truly personalize the experience. That’s what makes Greetale truly unique.
According to Rustin, “[Greetale] is the 2016 way of sending greeting cards. We make it easier, cheaper, and faster to send greeting cards with your own handwriting inside them right from your phone. Write what you want on a piece of paper, take a picture of it in the app, and the app will send your card physically!”
The app offers both digital and physical cards, giving users the experience of personalized greetings wherever they are.
Making It Happen
Rustin has funded most of the project himself from money he’s made selling electronics on eBay — a business he got into at the age of 10. He also secured a $1,000 grant from Danielle Strachman of the 1517 fund.
As a seasoned app entrepreneur (at 15, Rustin invested in two apps), he’s previously worked with overseas development teams and soon came to realize that they’re not the ideal match for the development of Greetale. Quality, speed of execution and communication across time zones were his prime concerns.
He shifted focus to finding a person or team in the United States to supply the tech resources he needed. His primary fear was that it would be expensive. He first heard about Gigster from a TechCrunch article and he immediately got in touch to get a quote.
Talking To Gigster
Rustin got in touch with Gigster to see if we could help and immediately, sales engineer Noah got back to him. “I was extremely impressed,” Rustin said of the fast turnaround. Noah was able to give advice and guidance throughout the development process and they still keep in touch.
His experience with Gigster has been very positive — to the point that Rustin is hoping to join the Gigster team himself after the Greetale project wraps up. He’s impressed by the Gigsters he works with and feels the Gigster model is a natural fit, “I was such a fan of the idea and the experience, and I like talking to people”.
The relationship with Lob, the company he uses for printing and shipping cards, was also setup by Gigster. When Lob decided to stop making the key service Greetale needed available to new clients Gigster was able to step in and help out. Were it not for Gigster’s relationship with Lob Greetale would have to have gone elsewhere to ensure physical delivery of cards — assuming others exist.
Sharing Greetale With The World
Greetale, which launched on February 2nd, built its momentum through visibility on Product Hunt when, with 134 upvotes, his app submission hit the front page of the site. Without any marketing budget Rustin has hustled to drive 500 digital card downloads and has sold $100 of physical cards using the cloud printing and shipping service Lob.
Rustin is definitely enjoying the momentum and likes watching people continue to use his app in unique ways. “I know the potential is definitely there. With 500 digital cards, I have had an effect on 500 people with nothing, with no college degree, at the age of 16.”
What’s Next For Rustin?
Rustin will be applying to college next year and, in typical entrepreneurial fashion, is looking to leverage the experience to build a larger network and potentially make some key hires amongst his classmates to take the app to the next level.
Go to Greetale.com and enter your phone number to try the app today.