Jamie Page was reviewing a cache of birthday cards one day last year.

They were nice. But they cost up to $5 a piece and mostly had canned greetings. Page, co-owner of a small software firm, had an idea for a side business.

He had his two adult children make brief cellphone birthday greetings for him, which Page compiled into a 40-second video card.

Page asked his wife, Lisa Page, if she would rather get a birthday card or a video card.

“I would love to receive a heartfelt, personalized video for my birthday,” Lisa Page said.

Recalled Jamie Page: “I’ve had a lot of stupid ideas over the years, so I asked her if I could chase this one.”

Lisa Page gave him the thumbs up.

Lisa even named the fledgling company “RexVid,” for their dog, Rex.

The Pages jumped into what became a labor of love and money, including countless hours and about $100,000 in contract software programming in the yearlong journey to get RexVid into the Apple Store.

The company’s progress and Lisa and Jamie’s lives were interrupted tragically in June.

Lisa Page collapsed while walking Rex in a Plymouth park and died of a brain aneurysm.

Lisa Page, 51, was a longtime education assistant in early childhood family education in the Robbinsdale school district. She also was the heart of her family and a lover of children and animals.

Lisa Page loved rescuing stray dogs so much that she once jumped out of the car in her neighborhood and grabbed a pup she didn’t recognize.

“The dog had a tag with an address,” chuckled Jamie Page. “Turns out, the dog was in his own yard. She saved one who didn’t need saving.”

Jamie has pretty much dedicated RexVid to the memory of his late wife.

They worked on it together, came up with the name and hired software developers and a marketing team to meet Apple’s app standards as they implemented their vision for video greeting cards.

Jamie Page didn’t like naming the company after a dog at first. Lisa prevailed.

“It’s hard to find a name that’s not taken by a website or company,” Jamie concluded.

Rex, which means “king” in Latin, is a tiny Shih Tzu-Pomeranian mix. His mighty name belies his diminutive size and cute bearing.

RexVid’s motto is “treat ’em like royalty.”

Lisa Page, who died shortly after the RexVid app was launched, also participated in one of the first videos.

She and Jamie Page sent a congratulatory RexVid to their son Jonathon, congratulating him on a new job.

RexVid also has generated a bit of an early buzz.

Tech.mn, the techie website, called it a pre-revenue Minnesota tech startup to watch.

Essentially, RexVid is an app that allows different people to collaborate on a short video for any occasion.

The RexVid process stitches together whatever is downloaded. It texts the recipient when a card is ready.

Page hasn’t started charging yet. He suggests 99 cents may eventually be the starter price.

The Pages raised another $175,000 from several friends who were interested in RexVid.

They have also invested in marketing and consumer research.

“We’ve got RexVid developed and built,” Jamie Page said. “Getting into Apple Store was challenging.

“We had to go back and rework the app and legal documents. We were declined at first … a few times. They didn’t like some of the language. They said it wasn’t descriptive enough. I wasn’t doing anything nefarious.”

Rexvid has at least one competitor, which uses an e-mail-based system that Page regards as too clunky.

“I believe it can go as a business,” Page said of RexVid. “I think it could generate high six figures or low seven figures [in revenue] and be profitable.

“Or maybe the right company comes along and would be interested [in an acquisition.] This started out as an expensive hobby and there are investors. So, I’d like it to be a sustainable business.”

Build a little business. Make a buck.

“That’s exciting, but not what motivates me,” Page said. “Connecting people does. Lisa loved that.

“I am now more motivated and inspired … by this and by her. “She and I talked about this. How to connect people. But our lives can change suddenly. To have a video memory of her is so powerful. It motivates me to share in memory of her.

“We want to honor Lisa. It’s been a sad chapter, her tragic death … but an important chapter in our lives and in our company. My son is in Iowa. My daughter is about to get married. Lisa loved the idea of keeping them, us, and others connected.

 

Neal St. Anthony has been a Star Tribune business columnist and reporter since 1984. He can be contacted at nstanthony@startribune.com.