About Curagami

Curagmai Logo Heart graphic

Falling In Love

One day everything made SENSE. This day came late in my life. Oh I’d been playing with computes for years. In 1984 I purchased an Apple II. When management derided my favorite thing in the world as a toy I capitulated buying a dual disk drive IBM PC with a monochrome green monitor and 640 K for $5,000.

I spent my days in grocery stores and my nights learning sofware such as Visicalc (later Lotus 1-2-3) and DB1. Buyers bought more when my sell sheet came out of the dot matrix printer. I experienced Arthur C. Clarke’s quote:

Technology is Magic Arthur C Clarke Quote
As an M&M/Mars salesperson I hated Fridays. Friday was a paperwork day, and Mars had PAPER going in many directions. So much paper Fridays often bleed into Saturday and Sunday. The inefficiency was more than offensive it felt like TIME was being robbed.

Computers, I sensed, could solve the robbery. If I could figure out new ways, new processes, time cold be regained. I was young (22, 23). The irony of spending thousands of hours to save 400 never crossed my mind. The magic of learning a new way of thinking was intoxicating and challenging.

Heart graphic

BANG Goes The Web & My Heart

“$5,000 is as low as we can go,” the web development company’s employee was telling me. This was the late 1990s and Janet McKean and I needed a website to support our specialty gift company. We also needed to EAT. We didn’t have $50 much less $5,000 1999 dollars (so call it $10K today).

Once again I sat down in front of a computer and learned new things. This time and suddenly everything in my life BEFORE the web seemed to make sense in the context OF the web. I’m a liberal arts student who graduated from Vassar College where I studied psychology and art.

I’d worked for P&G, M&M/Mars and the NutraSweet Company in sales and marketing. In 1999 every previous moment, learning, experience and love came together in a new challenge – creating my first website launched in November 1999. Here is a picture from the Wayback machine of FoundObjects.com in 1999:

Found Objects 1999 Design image

Those Mondrian lines, something easy to do today with CSS, almost killed me. I like solving puzzles and problems, but “obsession” is how others around me described what I called focus (lol). Creating FoundObjects.com (now gone sadly), two things felt true:

  • The web was a great home for my strange art / science / sales / marketing background.
  • I loved every minute of it.

I’d left a high paying but mercenary corporate job to go on a search. Prior to creating FoundObjects.com I’m not sure it was possible to state what I was searching FOR. After creating FoundObjects.com searching was over. I was home.

Born Again – Curagami

I loved two things simultaneously – creating and being a merchant. I’m an expensive, slow and poor graphic designer and coder so those loves quickly fell by the wayside. I left FoundObjects.com to manage a team of three inside a catalog company sitting on the beach the web’s tsunami just starting.

Over my 7 year Director of Ecommerce tenure I kept a hand in analytics and strategy, but delegated day-to-day design and code to great people. I trained beliefs, values and approach so they could train me in the evolving HOW. One day it was time to leave employment’s security again.

Another tsunami was coming – the new ecommerce.

Just as building FoundObjects.com in 1999 brought many things together the new ecom promises to do the same. I stopped being a Director of Ecommerce for the multimillion dollar website we’d built and I owned a small part of to cash in, ride a bicycle across America and raise money and awareness for cancer research.

Martin's Ride To Cure Cancer pictureDreams & Surviving Cancer

Riding a bicycle across America was a lifelong long deferred BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). In the summer of 2010, five years after hearing “cancer” and “Martin” in the same sentence dreams deferred became dreams realized. I hired a team, connected with Karen Cochran at the Duke Cancer Institute and we were off.

We learned important things fast:

  • America is a BIG place.
  • What sounded cool and fun at 25 was harder at 53 post chemo and cancer.
  • The KEY to achieving our goal was how we THOUGHT.

After Martin’s Ride To Cure Cancer I became Marketing Director for Atlantic BT in Raleigh. Working for a B2B agency was and wasn’t different. The sales cycle was longer and price of the product higher, but creating trusted content and community still led to conversion.

Sitting on a board bobbing in the water starring at the horizon I saw it again. This wave was sure to change online commerce mashing elements from my over fifteen years of web marketing such as:

  • Content and Commerce were going to learn how to play together.
  • The social / mobile web was adding rocket fuel to bullet #1.
  • Content Curation and Community were going to be LARGE and IN CHARGE.

There was only one thing to do – quit my day job…again. curagami_sideimage

What Does Curagami Do?

I’m smiling as I write this. Smiling thinking of the deer in headlights looks we’ve received trying to share our elevator pitch for Curagami. We know Curagami’s mission now:

Inspire B2C Ecommerce merchants to love content curation, content marketing and creation of sustainable online community as we do.

How can we do that? We’ve taken two paths:

  • Work as a services agency.
  • Develop easy to use, understand and deploy content curation tools.

Why is loving content so important? The New Ecommerce is a Trojan Horse, a Trojan Horse for:

Hero Marketing is the wrapper we use to define the “change the world, share your passion and ask for help” marketing at the core of the new ecommerce. When we encourage use of the L word (Love) we used to get more push back.

It’s as if the slow erosion created by the social / mobile web is increasing frustration (with PUSH) enough to think different. Once what worked in the past is dead and gone we search for what’s next. Smart web marketers move early and often. Laggards get crushed.

Goodbye linear thinking, hello exponential.
From Bold: How To Go Big, Make Wealth and Change The World by Steven Kotler

Blues Brothers graphic
Curagami, a mashup of curation and origami, is, like the Blues Brothers, on a mission from God. We know the frustration and stress associated with running million dollar websites without the insights, tools or team needed to be able to RELAX. Curagami creates services, tools, ideas, strategy and tactics to help web marketing teams tap exponential growth.

Hero Marketing is about going big or going home or going big to go home. When we rode a bicycle across America failure and harm were real possibilities, but is that true? My mother was so worried she wanted us to stop at the Mississippi. “That’s a big body of water Martin,” she said when we saw her in Tennessee, “you can do the rest later”.

Mom was right and wrong. Right because if we’d stopped at that big muddy body of water we wouldn’t have “failed”. You can’t fail when you learn as much as we did as fast as we did. You may not end up exactly where you thought or how you thought, but the new you created is many things failure isn’t one of them.

What can Curagami do to help your company tomorrow? Anyone who answers such a question is trying to sell you something. We don’t want to sell you anything. We want you to JOIN US as we create a new ecommerce sure to change the world. Who pays who what seems small and kind of stupid to worry about so we don’t worry about it.

Are we crazy? Couldn’t we starve? If the Big C can’t kill us sticking to our vision, beliefs and values is a cakewalk. The important question becomes can we collaborate to create something whose sum is greater than it’s parts?

Hope so because we’ve been part of teams where the sum was greater than parts a few times and it’s addictive and fun. Hero marketing is about a simple belief – we do things we love with those we love because life is too short to do anything else.

We are all in and risk everything we are all the time. If the closest we come to an exponential company is this post we and Curagami aren’t a failure. We just got to the Mississippi and decided to defer the rest of the journey.

If you want to help create a new online commerce one based on Hero Marketing sure to change the world JOIN US and ROCK ON!


Martin Smith
Cancer Survivor
Founder & CEO, Curagami.com
@Curagami   @Scenttrail
e: martin(at)Curagami.com
c: 919.360.1224