Chicago company creates personalized messages, gifts through app

Remember how it felt to get an autograph? A brush with greatness to take home with you and keep forever? These days the digital generation has its own version and the Chicago company Cameo is helping to make it personal.

“Our big idea was that selfies were the new autograph,” co-founder Steven Galanis said.  “When we were kids, we would pull out the Sharpie and get them to sign something. Today you pull out your phone and take a selfie and put it on Instagram or it didn’t happen.”

That’s where Cameo comes in. The digital start up is housed inside 1871, the hub of Chicago’s newest digital innovators.  And it’s delivering two things to their customers: authenticity and personalization.

The 16-person staff does it by booking 10, 20 and 30 second videos from athletes, singers, reality TV stars, motivational speakers, lifters, even a mentalist.

You choose from the people and draft a personalized message for them to share and in seven days or less, there’s a message in the recipient’s inbox.

About 1,500 talent have already signed up and 30,000 videos have been made over the past year.

They are sassy and sweet and everything in between. And they are all one of a kind. There’s no nudity nor inciting violence, but other than that, almost anything goes when it comes to content.

About 97 percent of the videos booked today are gifts. The average cost is $30 with most between $20 to $75.

Cameo is launching its app on iOS Friday and Android follows soon. It’s a space to share and comment on all the content they are collecting.

Blackhawks Hall of Famer welcomed Joe Donlon to WGN through Cameo.