We love meeting serious roll-up-your sleeves, get-it-done innovators. When Marie Clarke Arturi told us her story about how raising 40 million dollars for medical research inspired her to create buncee, we wanted to share it with you. With a Madame Curie sense of purpose, CEO Arturi speaks of two strong desires that intersected, and motivated her. Drawn to using the renaissance tools of the web, she wanted to uniquely acknowlede the people she met who are moving science forward. Buncee, Communication through Creation, is the startup that resulted.
Julie Anixter: You have a powerful life story that has informed everything you’ve done for the last 17 years? Can you share it?
Marie Clarke Arturi: I created buncee LLC®, to be a fun online and mobile digital canvas where users can create interactive multimedia messages to better express themselves across all their social and private networks.
The start of our journey began many difficult years before I was even ready to dream of buncee, though. Our family lost one of our daughters, Daniella, to a very rare disease, Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA). To honor her much too short, but remarkable life, we decided to channel our grief into the development of a medical research foundation in her name with the goal of helping to cure this little known disease for the children and families living with DBA. Over the years, the Daniella Maria Arturi Foundation has been very fortunate to help raise millions of dollars for the cause that has not only let us fund individual research projects, but also host several international medical conferences that have helped inspire and multiply research initiatives around the world.
Julie: How did you raise so much money?
Marie: Our family spent years hosting fundraisers in all the traditional ways foundations do – golf tournaments, cocktail receptions, silent auctions, you name it, and we have dedicated personal finances, as well. We also spent time helping people in Congress and within the relevant federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and Center for Disease Control understand the value of rare disease research and the complex and important connections DBA specifically has to other disease areas. We really did our homework and tracked down as many doctors and researchers that may have known about DBA as we could in the beginning. With them, we formed a wonderful team that has grown remarkably over the years. They have helped us articulate to Congress and the agencies the tremendous promise in researching DBA, both for the children and families living with DBA, but also for communities living with other blood disorders, birth defects and cancer. We are grateful that the researchers and health policy experts within the NIH, CDC and Congress agreed with the research potential and that this work is yielding exciting discoveries for each of these disease areas. There is still a lot to do however and we’re thrilled that buncee has come together as a way to give something fun and useful to people to use, while hopefully also helping us raise awareness and funding we need to cure this disease and help other disease communities find their cure, too.
Julie: What is Buncee?
Marie: buncee® is an online content sharing platform and mobile app that helps users create and share their everyday memories, interests, greetings, digital scrapbooks, and business stories in a fun and social way.
To create a ‘buncee’, you simply log on and open your digital buncee canvas where you can grab a background (ours or yours) and add as little or as much multimedia content as you’d like, then share anywhere, via email or by posting across your social networks with just a few clicks. We provide users with multiple easy-to-use tools to add photos, text, messages or quotes, drawings and online content such as YouTubes, Soundcloud, flickr, Google images and even public Instagram images into a postcard sized buncee, which can be expanded into multiple slides if you like. We also have an iPhone and iPad mobile app, buncee bits, for quick, on-the-go ‘bit’ sized buncee creations. Click here for video presentation (1:20 sec).
Julie: What kind of innovation does it represent?
Marie: Creative communication. In a time when so many of the outlets we use for communication today, the twitters and facebooks of the world, have become more and more truncated, we give people an easy tool to say a little more….share a little more…! We’re a group of people that doesn’t think a “happy birthday” post on your wall cuts it. We appreciate the drive toward quick, digital communication, but don’t believe it should limit our personal connection to people, particularly the people we love. It seems to me there are times where we need to say a little more, be a little more personal, get a message across more effectively, and buncee is a tool to do just that. You can mix as much or as little digital content as you like to get your point across and easily share with one person or all “your people” in just a few clicks.
Julie: Why did you start the company?
Marie: It was upon leaving one of our medical conferences, while writing email thank you notes (I know, horrible…) to the amazing doctors and researchers that attend our conferences that the thought came to me. I wished I had a way to share the picture we took of all our doctors on an attractive background, with the all the personal text I was writing, so that I could create a digital “thank you” that would really feel special to them. Not a canned e-card, but something truly unique, creative and personal – online! I googled around for something like buncee.com, but there wasn’t anything out there. I’m happy to say – now there is! We thought that by creating buncee, we could help fill the void for people like me who were searching for a flexible, easy to use platform like this, while also becoming a fun new way to help us raise awareness and funding for our DBA research efforts.
Julie: You’ve just started up a startup! How do you feel about this?
Marie: I underestimated by a monstrous order of magnitude how challenging this would be. While I have a business background, I’m also a Mom and one that until now has been dedicated to rabidly learning medical lingo and the basics of running a foundation for more than a decade. Embarking upon a tech “start-up” at this stage in my life wasn’t exactly what I anticipated. But, here I am. Living out on the east end of Long Island, NY, on the North Fork, has also presented some challenges as well as some perks. While the “east end” would not be considered a hotbed of technical talent, we were fortunate to discover the wonderful talent that Stony Brook University has within their Computer Science department. With outreach to Stony Brook and other local colleges we began hiring graduates and now have a very talented and energized team. We’ve also benefited from our proximity to NYC where we’ve been able to set up a small satellite office within the very cool shared co-working space at the Alley NYC, which has given us great access to networking and creative talent in the City.
All in all, I’m really proud of where we are as a start-up. I’ve also realized there is a huge upside to doing something like this at an older age. As you get older, you learn about force multipliers. You have done enough different things in your life to know that when your team is on the same wavelength… which is when you feel it in your bones that together you can achieve just about anything. Our medical effort has been somewhat miraculous in this way and I can feel this happening at buncee now, too. You can feel when energy begins to converge and marvelous things await you. I’m not trying to sound too “new age” here, but prior to that moment I’ve had to simply…. Stick to it! Stick to it! Stick to it! That pretty much sums it up. Don’t get too excited, don’t get too devastated – stay focused and keep going.
Julie: What “job” does Buncee allow people to do?
Marie: buncee allows people to create, share, express themselves and even market their brands in a way that you can’t on other sites right now. As I’d hoped when I was first wishing I had a way to send a more interactive, attractive and personal thank you message to our doc’s following our medical conference, buncee has truly become THE solution that now allows me to get as close as I possibly can to articulating a feeling or a message in this new technological world we find ourselves in. There is no other platform that allows you to be warm, professional, cute, corny, sophisticated and/or funny in what your email or post quite the way buncee can. buncee is an outgrowth of your personality – online. We are all, each one of us at different times, silly, professional, poignant, artistic and loving. An “e” site like this needs to accommodate all components of our personalities.
In addition to giving everyday online social users a fun tool to express themselves better, we think buncee will grow into a platform that can help small businesses and not-for-profits that can’t afford expensive web designers and marketing staff by giving them an easy, interactive way to keep in touch with their customers. Whether announcing new products, advocating a cause or sending customizable e-greetings and announcements, these small scale organizations will have the tools to leverage buncee’s customizable canvas, social media integration, embedding functionality, and hyperlink capabilities to expand their reach and engage their customers. We see an application for the “big companies”, too, where buncee would not only enable the same great product reach initiatives, but would also be a new way for say a Coca Cola to team with a great cause for an advocacy or contest campaign by inspiring their customers to express their support or stories in an interactive way using buncee’s. buncee is also an ideal educational tool, providing students and teachers with a functional and fun alternative for interactive school reports and presentations. We hope to partner up with a ‘perfect-fit company’ in the future, to offer users a print functionality for their unique buncee creations, as well!
People often say that buncee brings out your creative side, but as my self-proclaimed “no-creative-bone-in-my-body” husband said it best, buncee allows a person that never believed they even had a creative side to become creative.
Julie: What have other people done with Buncee?
Marie: buncee is a site where one person will being using it to create an e-greeting or interactive “I miss you” or “happy birthday”, while others are using it to market their products, make a school project, share memories, create a digital scrapbook of their vacation, or simply share their latest finds from new music and videos, to inspirations, fashion, and DIY tips….
Some are very simple – just a great photo with an inspirational or funny video on a cool background, where others utilize more of the functionality to share their story. People will share a collage of photos and a “happy birthday” youtube with a fun birthday background and messages and post for friends and family birthdays, and others have used it as to amplify their small business marketing. For example, if you’re a realtor, you could use an interactive buncee to help market your homes. In a buncee you can add multiple images of the home, hyperlinks to local community amenities, a youtube with a virtual tour of the property, and any personal text and branding you want, then “email” to specific clients, embed on your website, and post to any social network all within buncee. It’s a ideal as a leveraging tool for businesses in this way in addition to all the fun social uses people are using it for.
Julie: What is your hope for Buncee at the very moment in time?
A: While our buncee “viewers” are growing tremendously, we’re hoping the number of buncee “creators” will begin increasing, as well. We believe that the upcoming holiday season is the perfect opportunity for people to try buncee out! While there are plenty of great e-card options out there, none have the customization and integration capabilities that we have. We believe the ability to easily upload limitless photos, custom text, videos even, will appeal to people wanting to create more personal e-greetings, whether they’re sending holiday wishes, sharing family stories from the year, or simply sending a fun digital Happy Birthday or Thank You message. And, while artists and those who are a bit more technically advanced can have a field day with the customization tools on our site, it’s also important to us that those who do not consider themselves “naturally creative or tech-savvy” also have a very easy-to-use tool to create special, personalized e-greetings, as well – buncee provides that.
All in all, as we find our way, we hope buncee remains fun and inspires people to want to say more… and share the love!
Julie: How do you hope buncee will fund DBA?
Marie: Monetization strategies.
We will be working hard to implement a number of monetization strategies, which includes partnering with a print company so that when a buncee user creates a personalized e-greeting, digital scrapbook or “lookbook”, they will have a digital-to-print option. We also hope to build partnerships with companies and not-for-profit groups seeking new ways to promote their brands, reach new communities, build their outreach and share their stories. We know firsthand how buncee has helped our not-for-profit, from sending out an announcement or sharing stories from our medical research community, buncee has been a terrific tool to have at our fingertips. Ultimately, we hope that buncee becomes wildly popular and whether through any of these monetization strategies or by selling it to a company that can take buncee to even greater heights, we hope we’ll generate funding that will allow us to fund, fund, fund, the DBA research we need to find a cure!
Julie: What has surprised you?
Marie: Many things have surprised us, but one we’ve been particularly delighted by is viewing the fun back and forth when people are “commenting” on each other’s public buncee’s.
Other things that have surprised us is how challenging this space is…. how high the bar is held and how quickly that changes. And, what users need in order to give you their most precious resource – their time!
image credit: buncee.com
Julie Anixter is Chief Innovation Officer at Maga Design and the executive editor and co-founder of Innovation Excellence. The co-author of three books, she’s working on a fourth on courage and innovation. She worked with Tom Peters for five years on bringing big ideas to big audiences. Now she works with the US Military, Healthcare, Manufacturing and other high test innovation cultures that make a difference.