Forget Facebook, Moo says the future of connections is physical

By Oliver Smith 12 September 2017

Richard Moross is bringing paper back into fashion.

It’s hard not to be impressed the first time you’re handed a Moo business card.

The weight of the paper, elegant typefaces and embossed lettering… you instinctively take its owner very seriously.

Moo has long been loved by entrepreneurs and small businesses across London’s tech scene, a stylish way of punching above their weight, and in recent years Airbnb, Indiegogo and even some divisions at Google have turned to Moo.

And despite being the age of the sharing economy, digital banking and artificial intelligence, Moo’s paper cards play into a trend going in the exact opposite direction.

Our love of the physical.

Meet Moo

“Printing is an amazing industry. It’s been around for hundreds of years. It’s a very family-oriented business, but I wouldn’t say it’s very technically progressive,” Richard Moross, Moo’s CEO, founder and a self-proclaimed technologist, told The Memo.

“We’re all about unleashing your desire to self-express and to talk about your business in a more dynamic, personal way.”

That sounds like marketing, but it’s exactly what Moo’s done over the last decade.

Moross’s earliest innovations were technologies like Printfinity, which lets you have a different image or graphic on the back of every business card.

He’s experimented with near-field communication (NFC) chips embedded in the paper of cards to let you store your contact details digitally and let recipients simply swipe your card against their Android smartphone – an experiment that Moross says hasn’t yet taken off.

Most recently his team developed cotton cards, a novel concept made from the recycled off-cuts from t-shirts, printed from Moo’s vast warehouse in Dagenham.

Yes, in 2017 tech-savvy entrepreneurs are investing in business cards made from t-shirts – bang-on trend for a more sustainable future.

The future is physical

But doesn’t this go against common wisdom, that our lives are becoming increasingly digital?

“I think in this environment, physical tokens are actually more important,” says Moross.

Similar to how vinyl is booming, paperback books are expected to rise this year, and post-millennials are hunting for deals on the high street, so too are business cards in the midst of a resurgence.

“These are totems of our self, our identity. They cut through all of that digital noise.”

Moross won’t be drawn on Moo’s sales numbers, but he says that across the business card market “it’s entirely possible that, in number, they’re shrinking, but the value or amount spend per card is actually going up.”

He’s right that business cards have yet to be replaced by technology, a card in the hand is still quicker and often more impactful than any app or social network.

Right now Moross says he believes the longevity of paper business cards could simply be “forever”.

“The physical item will be considered the premium. Maybe it’s not the thing you use every day, but it’s still an extremely valuable experience we’ll use when we want to do something special.”

So don’t despair that digital is dominating, because physical is finding its own special place in our lives.