Submitted: The Two Sides Team October 16, 2012
Paperless Post, a company that has built a name for itself offering a cloud-based, visually engaging, way of sending people invites by email, is going retro: today the company is officially launching PAPER, a printed stationery business that it will sit alongside its less physical cousin, which now has 1.5 million registered users, and has sent out invites to 30 million more since going live in 2009.
October 15 2012
by Ingrid Lunden – Tech Crunch
a company that has built a name for itself offering a cloud-based,
visually engaging, way of sending people invites by email, is going
retro: today the company is officially launching PAPER,
a printed stationery business that it will sit alongside its less
physical cousin, which now has 1.5 million registered users, and has
sent out invites to 30 million more since going live in 2009.
If the idea of a paperless company moving into paper sounds like an
oxymoron, the bigger picture is that the company is still sticking to
its core business. Not unlike business card counterpart Moo.com,
PAPER still uses Paperless Posts cloud-based service to design and
manage the distribution of the finished product. More importantly, this
is a way of bringing the business out to a wider customer base that will
sometimes need more than just email, or access or create invites via an
iPhone app, for special occasions like weddings and fancy parties.
And in its move to printing, Paperless Post is offering a couple of disruptive elements in the form of price and production.
The service is launching as a premium product, offering two
thicknesses of card stock (120-pound and 250-pound), with pricing
starting at $1.50 per card, including the envelope and liner. Alexa
Hirschfeld, who co-founded the company with her brother James, notes
this is a pretty decent discount on the $5 or more charged for printing
of similar invites by more traditional invitation printers.
Similarly, while wedding invites usually need to be ordered in bulk,
PAPER is giving users an option of ordering invites one at a time, so
event organizaers will eventually be able to create a service whereby
guests get emailed invites, but can request printed invites as mementos
James and Alexa note that this is just stage one of their effort in
printing. Although they are focusing on premium events like weddings,
they are so far not moving into features like letter press or embossing,
although that could come if users request it. Our product development
has been very user driven and since we lancund in 2009, says James, and
that could lead it in different directions going forward.
So why the move to paper? Coming in the wake of other electronic
invitation services like e-vite, what Paperless Post has always done is
offer something more beautiful. We brought stationery lovers on to the
internet, says James. But since progress is often a case of two steps
forward, and one step back, going internet, it turned out, didnt mean
leaving paper behind altogether. Weve discovered that what they really
want is a hybrid solution that gave them a matching invite in paper.
Its also a question of business models: up to now Paperless Post has
made money through the sale of premium services around its non-printed
invitations extra features on the invites and so on.
But as Alexa says, One of the great things about paper is that we
can be more valuable, by offering a larger margin on the printed
product than it offers online.
While PAPER is bound to keep evolving, the Hirschfelds also note that
they are continuing to develop what they are offering users online.
Currently, for example, paper invites are separate from the online
invites, and there is no unique URL connecting those. But they are
coming, says Alexa.
The move into printing has been a learning curve of sorts for the
Hirschfelds. On the one hand, the printing revolution, where companies
like HP have created devices that are smaller and smaller but make
better and better prints, has given companies like Paperless Post a much
easier, and less expensive, entry into the market. Still, they to find
the right printer to work with and the right price point with the right
amount of flexibility for their service. Potentially, if they get it
right, that could be used to print more than stationery someday.
Paperless Post has to date received $12.3 million in funding from
investors including Ram Shriram, Mousse Partners, Thrive Capital, RRE,
SV Angel, the Crunchfund and Tim Draper.