Launch Pad: Alex Furmansky ENG’07/W’07, Founder of Budsies

Your kid draws a picture (or you do). Or you take a picture of, say, a half eaten breakfast sandwich. You send that picture in to Budsies, and in just two weeks you get back a stuffed animal of the picture.

You can imagine how adorable this gets. And if you can’t, check out, and you can see how awesome it truly is.

As Alex Furmansky puts it, “the concept is quite simple, we take people’s drawings and we turn them into one-off custom, handmade stuffed animals. We literally bring to life people’s characters.”

While Budsies started as mostly for children, where “parents would send us their kid’s doodles, from robots to unicorns to self-portraits to portraits of mom and dad, which become quite funny at times.” Lately, it’s expanded so that “about half of our Budsies are actually made by designers, illustrators, manga, anime, even furries, you know, the folks who dress up in furry costumes and have personas. They’re awesome, great customers. And so basically anything you can draw, anything you can send us as a photo, we can turn into a real three-dimensional stuffed animal.”

Can you really send them anything? Furmansky says, “If you can take a photo of it or create a digital image of it then we accept it.”

Listen to Alex Furmansky and his former Wharton prof, Karl Ulrich, talk about where the idea for Budsies came from, how he tested it—and what happened when, a month before Budsie’s first holiday season, the factory making the Budsies closed.

Here’s what Furmansky has to say about that experience: “I often tell people I mentor that when things go really badly, that is actually a great time for you as a founder, because that is how you turn a sad situation into the most loyal fans and evangelists ever.”