By Diane Mastrull
The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Gov. Christie’s budget ax might have fallen heavily on schools four years ago, but for teacher Amy Wiker it was entrepreneurial inspiration.
Only afterward came the tough reality that way more is required for business success. And that was followed by a change in strategy.
It’s too early to tell whether the 46-year-old Medford Lakes mother of two is now on the right track. She has no plans to quit her teaching job, where the idea of starting a business first occurred to her.
In 2012, state funding cuts had led to the elimination of the athletic program at Wiker’s school, Neeta Elementary in Medford Lakes, where she teaches fifth grade. Parents picked up the slack, creating an organization of volunteers to fund a sports program.
While at home vacuuming one day, Wiker stopped to check her email and found a group message from a parent willing to share pictures he had taken at their daughters’ recent lacrosse game.
He was offering to share the user name to his Internet-based photo-publishing account. (Wiker can’t remember whether it was Shutterfly or some other site.)
“I said, ‘My gosh, all these parents snapping these pictures with their phones and cameras and sharing them. Why can’t we turn them into fund-raising?’ ”
From that moment came not only a clean carpet but FundPhotos.com, which was launched in September 2013. It offered what no other photo-sharing site did: the ability for users to help fund a charitable organization through their orders.
With each purchase of a product personalized with photos customers stored on FundPhotos — such as calendars, coffee mugs, greeting cards, or T-shirts — customers could direct 10 percent of the sale price to one of the nearly 30 charities listed on the site.
Though the website attracted “several thousand visitors,” Wiker said, total sales had amounted to only “a couple thousand dollars” by May of this year, when she took the site offline.