Name: Alexis Monson and Santiago Prieto
Location: San Francisco, CA
Launched: July 2015
A few years back, Alexis Monson was thinking about her husband, Santiago Prieto. Santiago had traveled across the country to give an important business presentation. Alexis sent him a sweet, handwritten “good luck” card which he received right before the meeting. He loved the thoughtful gesture and wanted to reciprocate. Problem was, he couldn’t find a card he liked and he didn’t have a stamp. He didn’t even have a pen! When Santiago returned to California, he and Alexis decided to help people effortlessly send beautiful handwritten cards. Thousands of cards and one popular app later, Alexis, Santiago and the creative team at Punkpost spend their time carefully creating original cards made by dedicated artists and handwriters who all value “slow,” meaningful communication in an age of instant, automated messaging.
Alexis, tell us about the mission of your company. Has the business model changed as Punkpost has grown?
Punkpost makes it easy to send beautifully handwritten cards which our artists mail out on your behalf. From our web page or app, you pick a card, type your message and enter the recipient’s mailing address. From there, one of our handwriting artists will turn your message into a one-of-a-kind work of art and have it in the mail within 24 hours. You can even add photo prints or confetti!
When we first started out in business, we focused on one-to-one sending. Soon, our customers were asking us how they could send cards on behalf of a company. They wanted to send hundreds of cards in the amount of time it would take them to write one. We created “Punkpost projects” for mailing bundles of handwritten cards.
What did it take to turn your idea into a real business?
First, Santiago and I agreed we were passionate enough about this idea to say, “We think the world needs this. We’re willing to give everything to make sure people know about it and that it thrives.”
We built a prototype of Punkpost on a Squarespace site to see if people liked the idea. Then we went to a market-type event where we had a little desk with an iPad which people could send cards from. We wanted to see if they felt this product could make their lives easier and better. Would it help them connect with their friends and family on a deeper level? The response was overwhelmingly positive. One week later, we both decided to lean in and give it our all.
What has been most challenging or surprising about starting and running your own business?
There are a million things! I’d worked at two other startups, so I knew I’d be working a lot – like, all the time! But I didn’t realize how committed I would be to building and growing this business, and, as a result, how emotional it would all be. As it turns out, Punkpost is the thing I most want to see succeed in my life.
What has been most satisfying about starting and running your own business?
We’ve met and worked with amazing people as a result of this business. Our community of handwriting artists is so talented, positive and dedicated. They're really just the best, and we are so thankful for all the love, support and talent everyone brings to the Punkpost family.
What’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you were starting out in business?
As business owners, we're go, go, go all the time, and creativity takes time. Sometimes it feels like a bother or a waste of time to slow down, but it never is. Those moments to breathe are when the best ideas and moments of clarity arrive. Allowing yourself to have that time always pays off when we do.
Something else I’m thankful to have learned is not to get too down on yourself. You are going to make mistakes, and you don't have time to dwell on them. Instead, learn a lesson and move forward with your new knowledge.
Tell us about your “mindset” as a self-employed person.
As entrepreneurs, we are probably slightly crazy to go out there, build something on our own and be so obsessive that we focus all of our time and energy on it!
How are you gearing up now for the busy holiday season ahead?
We're growing our handwriting artist community like crazy right now. We've got all of our card art set, and we're starting to reach out to companies for pre-orders. I always feel behind for the holidays, but each year we get a little more ahead of the curve. Someday I'll feel right on schedule ... I hope!
What do you hope to gain from attending QuickBooks Connect?
I’m looking forward to meeting other business owners and, hopefully, helping them connect more fully with their customers, clients and employees.
QB Community members, what kind of market “testing” did you do to help you decide if your business idea was viable? We’d love to hear your story!
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