Kevin O'Leary of Lovepop and 'Shark Tank'

How Lovepop Cards From ‘Shark Tank’ Are Putting Their Stamp On The Billboard Music Awards

When audiences tune in tonight to see the winners announced on the Billboard Music Awards, they’ll notice something a bit different. The cards that reveal who’s taking home each prize will have a distinctive 3D element. That’s because unlike previous years they are being specially designed by Boston company Lovepop. The luxury card brand became widely known after appearing on Shark Tank in 2015 and getting an investment from Kevin O’Leary.

When Billboard first announced the partnership earlier this month, it revealed that each card will have unique artwork specific to the artist receiving each award. It confirmed the Lovepop cards would replace the flat envelopes so often associated with award shows.

This is not the first collaboration for Lovepop. The company also announced in a press release this week that it has partnered with Apple Corps Ltd. to produce cards that commemorate notable events in the life of The Beatles. The release included two iconic images connected to the famous music group: the Abbey Road crosswalk and a yellow submarine.

In the less than two years since appearing on Shark Tank, Lovepop has grown significantly. In November 2016, BostInno reported that it raised another $6 million in a Series A round backed by O’Leary and others. When O’Leary originally invested $300,000 on Shark Tank, he got a $2 million valuation on the company. The new Series A money was said to fund two New York City retail locations in addition to Lovepop’s Boston outlets. When Lovepop originally appeared on Shark Tank, its business was largely restricted to a kiosk model.

So what makes Lovepop Cards so special? It turns out creating the intricate designs is not as easy as it looks. As Inc. reported when it gave Lovepop a 2017 Design Award, the firm’s founders came across a particular kind of origami while traveling that used cut, and not just folded paper. At the time, the men were specialists in ship design, having met a decade earlier while studying naval architecture. The process of creating a card is much like creating a ship, planning where the pieces fit together and then assembling them.

But the company has not become successful just because of its ingenious idea. The process of creating the cards is proprietary — at least, it’s trademarked — which means a big-name card company can’t jump in and steal it, even if they could figure out how to do it. The process is called “Slicegami.” But both O’Leary and the people behind Lovepop say they are less about technology than selling an experience.

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According to BostInno, O’Leary plans to see the company grow beyond just offering a unique niche in the card market.

“This is a new generation in gifting. Millennials aren’t going to drugstores to buy cards. They are online, and they are looking for something unique. Lovepop’s founders understand this like no other company I’ve seen. These guys are the future of card giving, and I think you’ll see them evolve in some very unexpected ways.”

Wombi Rose also told BostInno that his vision for Lovepop is to go beyond the afterthought that greeting cards have become.

“What we’re selling at Lovepop isn’t paper. It’s an unexpected moment — you get an ordinary envelope in the mail but when you open it you find a 3D teddy bear, a pirate ship, or a beautiful willow tree love scene. When our customers buy the perfect Lovepop for someone, they are sharing a deep personal connection.”

The cards are also a nice fit with some of O’Leary’s other investments, which include wedding-related items. Lovepop announced plans for a custom wedding invitation platform.

The Billboard Music Awards airs Sunday, May 21, 2017 on ABC.

[Featured Image by Rick Diamond/Getty Images]

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