With Shoeboxed there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after scanning millions of receipts and business cards since 2007, we say that from years of firsthand experience!

Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in serving clients from around the country and across ­the globe, all of whom use our service in a myriad of ways to fulfill a whole host of organizational needs in both their personal and professional lives.

With that in mind, Shoeboxed is both pleased and honored to launch a series that spotlights our wonderful users, their success stories, and countless ways satisfied Shoeboxed customers worldwide are utilizing our service to stay organized.

Startup Veteran with a Passion for Plums: Ksenia Oustiougova and Plumagram

“Now I feel like I’m in 2020, doing business at the speed of light.”                                                                                                                          -Ksenia Oustiougova



Introducing: Ksenia Outiougova
Profession: Entrepreneur
Location: Seattle, Washington
Website: www.plumagram.com
Twitter: @kseniaoust @plumagram

About Ksenia:

Ksenia is an entrepreneur at heart, product and project manager by trade, with a passion for writing and speaking. Her first start-up was Lilipip, a company that creates animated videos explaining products, services, and concepts for businesses, start-ups, and non-profits.

Ksenia’s “tell it like it is” style combined with her strategic use of social media in business development set her apart as a clear example of the contemporary female entrepreneur. She has been named one of the 100 Top Women in Seattle Tech, Geek of the Week of Seattle PI, and invited to judge the UW CIE Business Plan Competition. She is currently living in Seattle, working on her latest startup venture Plumagram, an urban social media marketing shop.

SBX: Tell us more about how you got into the entrepreneurial field and founded Lillip!

Shoeboxed User KseniaAfter the birth of my second child, I quit my job as an architect to make educational animations for toddlers. I turned to UW for help with my business plan, and my team won the Best Product Idea Prize in the 2006 Business Plan Competition, which served as a launching pad for Lillip. Over the course of the past 3 years, I changed the business model twice, first from production company to licensing content as a filtered “YouTube” for kids in 2007, and then to the current model in the summer of 2008.

SBX: Wow, kudos on your success! What inspired you to embark on yet another startup after that?

Shoeboxed User KseniaIn August I was laid off from my previous job as Product & QA Manager job at Oggifinogi, which was a good kick in the ass to reassess what it is I wanted to do with my life. I felt the itch to get back into social media during my last months at Oggifinogi, and started moonlighting for Piccolo (who found me through Filter Digital). Without any expectations, I posted on FB and Twitter about my being unemployed and BAM! – landed two more clients out of the blue: Irrevo and Rene Ropas. I thought, wait, I don’t even have a name for my business, I don’t even know what I want to do and if I will be looking for a full-time job! But, reality of life prevailed, meaning food costs money. I started helping them out with branding coaching and social media marketing, and at the same time thinking what I would name this business.

SBX: And so Plumagram was born! If you don’t mind us asking, what exactly is a “plumagram”? 

Shoeboxed User KseniaOne day, sitting on the couch, pounding on my laptop, I stood up to go get some snack from the kitchen, opened the fridge, and took out a plum. Looked at it and thought – this is perfect – this is a single, like a single message, a single brand – which symbolized what I want to do. I went to check for domain names and Single Plum was available, so I got it! Long story short, most of my friends thought it sounds like a dating site, and kept asking – why plum? I said – I don’t know, I just like eating them.

But by this time I was solidly married to the whole plum or some kind of red fruit idea, even thinking I would be sending plum jam to my customers in the mail! And then on September 13th, browsing for all things “plum”, I stumbled upon a term “plumagram” – an urban slang for a pomegranate – and that was IT. It was perfect. It was all things fruit, and red, and sweet, and juicy, and smashing and messy and expressive. Plus online searches returned only a few results (even less in images), domain name was available, so were Twitter names and others – and presto! I fell in love with it.

SBX: What a great story behind your company!

I’m sure most other entrepreneurs out there can relate to my story.

Shoeboxed User KseniaOne day, at around 3pm, on a sunny afternoon, your brilliant mind tells you’ve got to stop doing that 8 to 5 job. It’s time to start your own shop, do your passion, live life – before it’s too late. You quit, get laid off, disappear into the ether – whatever is your interpretation is of the past events. You wake up late, brew your favorite coffee, take time to actually eat breakfast as opposed to scarfing it down. You smile at yourself and set out to brainstorm – the perfect project, the perfect company name, the perfect business for you and YOU only. Let’s say that it’s done – you’ve set up a website, complete with an e-mail, a brief description of what you do, you even designed business cards, printed them and got yourself ready for the next networking event for your industry in your town. Brilliant. You dress up – or, you go shop to get something special – pocket enough business cards to give out, and stroll into the room as if you were walking a red carpet.

SBX: And then you unleash the networking machine in you! 

Shoeboxed User KseniaPeople chat you up, you chat them up – you both share stories on who you are, what it is you do, when did you start, how much you charge – all the beautiful stuff that comes with being an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a self-made expert in that special field that you absolutely love. You shake hands, you exchange business cards, you get home – happy and exhausted. You sleep like a rock, and in the morning, glowing from last night, you set out to connect with people whose business cards you collected. The first hour flies by in a flash, by the second hour you wonder when the stack will start getting smaller. By the end of the day you’re in pain and decide to continue tomorrow. But tomorrow business takes over, and you shove the remaining cards into – drumroll – a shoebox!

SBX: Sidenote: that’s exactly how we got our name! Please continue :)

Fast forward – couple months later, your shoebox is full. You’re desperately trying to catch up with all those contacts you made, but you don’t have enough hands. Maybe hiring an admin will help? Why do people use business cards anyway – shouldn’t everything be digital? You decide you’ve got more important matters to attend to, but the box beckons. You’ve got to contact all those people – you know it – they’re potential prospects who can turn into clients who can become loyal and refer other clients – and your business will grow and prosper. Enter Shoeboxed.com.

SBX: That’s precisely why we’re here. As a fellow small business, we admire your all of your hardwork and success you’ve accomplished.  Do you have any advice you can give to those out there trying to do the same?

Shoeboxed User KseniaMy story is about you as much as it is about me – about how I was desperate to find some service that would allow me to automate this contact collection, to plug it into some kind of an online database, to connect it with other favorite tools I use – like Batchbook for CRM, Mailchimp for newsletters, etc. It started with a simple Google search and ended with hours and hours saved – and thousands of connections made – for both my first start-up Lilipip, production studio of animated videos about products & technology, and my current endeavor, Plumagram, an urban social media marketing shop. I heart Shoeboxed.com. It feeds my obsession with organizing everything to the dot. I revel in looking at my collection of contacts – the front scanned and the back scanned.  Even my recycling obsession itch gets scratched because business cards being shredded and recycled after being scanned! Now I feel like I’m in 2020, doing business at the speed of light.

SBX: Thank you, Ksenia! We wish you the best of luck with your new startup quest and are honored you chose us to help grow your businesses!

Are you a Shoeboxed user who has a success story and would like to be featured on our blog? Then we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to Carolyn at carolyn@team.shoeboxed.com for more information.

Until then, stay tuned… and stay organized!

Photos by: Anna Rachel Lusby