In the Beginning
Wrongcards was built over a single weekend in March, 2008, and launched officially on April 1st. And by ‘launched’ I mean ‘I told a few friends’.
I had built Wrongcards to give myself a creative outlet while adjusting to my new job as a biological software engineer at Harvard Medical School. I’d had the idea to build some sort of an anti-Hallmark Card website, for some reason. It would ideally be a truthful - and completely useless - ecard website that nobody in their right mind would ever use.
And I made a few cards like this one.
I was, therefore, understandably unnerved when I noticed, sometime towards the end of May, that the website had received over 150,000 visitors.
What should I do?
It seemed churlish to shutdown the site. What was Harvard going to do - fire me? Well, yes, obviously they’d probably fire me - there were too many cards advocating violence against middle-managers - but I didn’t really want to be fired. I liked my job. It was mostly unsupervised, my colleagues were nice, and I was doing interesting things with my mind every day.
On the other hand … I’d have to leave Harvard one day. Leaving under a dark cloud was obviously the most romantic way of doing that.
So instead of shutting down Wrongcards, I decided to keep it going and just not tell anybody at work about it.
One of the guys I worked with thought Wrongcards was cool, and he told pretty much everybody that we knew. And word spread and suddenly I was that that guy. Things became really weird.
I rememeber getting into the elevator one day with this really nice, older lady who worked in Harvard Health Publications. She said, “Hey, I went to Wrongcards today. So good!.”
In that moment, at the same time, we both remembered the latest card.
We both stared awkwardly at the floor until I was able to flee.
I started to sell these at Amazon in 2011. Each box has 20 different cards, and they look so great in person.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a marketing budget — or an actual budget, for that matter — so I think we sold only about 500 boxes or so. About twenty people who bought them took the time to write to me and tell me how much they love them, so that’s cool.
Into the Future
Honestly, I don’t know where Wrongcards is going to go. At this point, I’m just glad I haven’t lost the entire site in a game of Mah Jong — I don’t even know how to play Mah Jong, which just goes to show how easy it would have been to lose.
These days I write novels as a full-time job.
I really recommend checking out some of my newsletters; they’re really fun.