Some grandmas I know went down the uncharted path of buying a smartphone, downloading WhatsApp and learning to text only to be in touch with their grandchildren. Some of them are now facing the challenge of using Snapchat – proficiency stuff.
Several others simply couldn’t make it. But still, they would love to hear from the kids, who are often too much absorbed by their everyday school and extracurricular activities – not to mention, by the endless social media buzz – to remember to call grandma.
“We imagine a world where every elderly person gets a routine, meaningful hello from the people they love.”
To overcome this generational gap in communication, Boston-based startup The Silver Post is offering a really simple service: printing photos and messages on behalf of the sender, and mailing them on a postcard to their grandma. Basically, they offer customers the opportunity to outsource the process of printing images, getting stamps and going to the post office.
“For us, sending a text message is natural,” said The Silver Post co-founder Carolyn McRae, 27, in an interview with BostInno. “But for [the elderly], receiving mail in their mailbox is natural.”
The company, which launched its website in April but started informally two months before, was co-founded by two friends: marketing expert McRae and software engineer Charles Renwick. McRae said that she had the idea for The Silver Post for quite some time, but it was only when she shared it with Renwick one day over lunch – “very casually” – that things started happening.
“Two days later, he came into the office [to] meet me, and he said: ‘I have our first customer,’” McRae said. That first customer was a friend of a friend who paid in cash, so McRae and Renwick decided to take the plunge.
Here’s how The Silver Post works. By subscribing to the service, users accept to pay a $5 recurrent monthly charge. Each charge includes a single postcard. Once users have provided the company with the recipient’s address, they need to text the company with the images and the message they want to send, and The Silver Post will take from there.
Subscribers can send more than one photo to be included in the front of the monthly postcard, but McRae said that postcards look best with maximum one or two photos.
According to McRae, who works for The Silver Post out of her own apartment in the South End, photos are printed with a professional-quality printer. Postcards can be sent anywhere in the world at no additional charge, but the service only supports U. S. mobile numbers.
Subscribers also receive a few text alerts to send pics and message. If they don’t provide the materials in time, they would be charged anyway. However, they can cancel their subscription anytime.
McRae, who’d rather not disclose the number of subscribers, said that customers have been “doubling month over month” and that she left her job to work full-time on the venture. So far, the company has been bootstrapping.
It’s not unusual for the company getting requests to send postcards to recipients who are not grannies. For example, people in a long-distance relationship may use The Silver Post to send postcards to their significant other. However, the brand is meant for the elderly from its very name.
“I’ve always liked the word ‘silver’ because it has a positive connotation, but it also can address gray hair… of elderly people,” McRae said. “And the ‘post’ is the post office.”
So far, the co-founders want to spread the word that the service exists and getting more subscribers. In the future, they hope to expand the offering by allowing customers to send more than one postcard per month.
“We imagine a world where every elderly person gets a routine, meaningful hello from the people they love,” McRae wrote in a follow-up email. “Monthly postcards are a great start.”