Lovepop Unseals $12.5M to Grow 3D Pop-up Greeting Card Business

Xconomy Boston — 

Investors are enamored with Lovepop, the technology-enabled, pop-up greeting card startup. The Boston-based company announced Wednesday it received a $12.5 million investment led by Highland Capital Partners.

Greeting cards aren’t a traditional venture capital-backed business, but Lovepop’s backers say there’s an opportunity to shake up a large market that hasn’t seen much innovation over the years. Lovepop sits at the intersection of advanced manufacturing, design, and art. Its approach involves creating cards with 3D design software and laser-cutting equipment; at the end of the process, the “paper sculptures” are assembled by hand.

The company’s founders, Harvard Business School alums Wombi Rose and John Wise, are former ship designers who took an interest in the Asian art technique of sliceform kirigami during a business school project in Vietnam, according to a press release. (Other startups applying new technologies to long-standing, human-powered, creative activities include Artaic, which makes custom tile mosaics using software and robotics, and MailLift, which uses software to augment the process of sending handwritten letters.)

A group of return backers joined Highland in the new Lovepop investment, including Accomplice, Wayfair CEO and co-founder Niraj Shah, Crashlytics founder Wayne Chang, DraftKings CEO and co-founder Jason Robins, and Bob White, one of Bain Capital’s founding partners. Highland general partner Bob Davis, who previously founded Lycos, has joined Lovepop’s board, according to the press release.

Four-year-old Lovepop was incubated at the Harvard Innovation Lab, participated in Techstars Boston’s startup accelerator program in 2015, and later that year received a $300,000 investment from Kevin O’Leary on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The company announced a $6 million funding round in November 2016.

Since then, Lovepop said it has increased its sales and ramped up hiring significantly. The company now employs more than 600 people worldwide, Lovepop said in the press release. It has scored partnerships with high-profile groups, including HBO (for a line of “Game of Thrones”-themed cards) and The Beatles (to recreate album covers as paper sculptures). Its products can be purchased online, at hundreds of specialty retail outlets, and at more than 15 company-owned shops.

Lovepop said it plans to pour the new money into growing its technology, marketing, and design teams; investing in manufacturing and operations; and expanding its new custom wedding invitation business.