Josh Brooks is CEO and Founder of Postcard On The Run (POTR), an easy-to-use mobile application that allows users to take a photograph off their mobile phone, personalize it with a message and their own signature, and send it as a high-quality physical postcard anywhere in the world.
The march of technology has historically led us from physical to digital. From offline to online. We like to focus in that direction and even glancing back the other way can seem uncomfortable and unproductive. But we should glance – if not to return, to at least make sure we're not leaving behind anything important.
I believe this online/offline harmony eludes one industry: photography.
If you're like me, you've got 22,000 photos stashed away on a hard drive and thousands of photos cluttering your phone. Family, friends, holidays... each photo seemed important at the moment, right? And they still are. But you wouldn't know it by looking at them because nobody's looking at them anymore. They live in my Facebook or Twitter social stream for about 54 seconds until my friend's photos of a hot dog eating contest pushes them below the fold.
Then it's over. They get sucked into the black hole of digital space, floating in online limbo, rarely (if ever) to be seen again. Are we missing something here? Of course, digital photos cannot be matched in speed, convenience or scope -- their ability to tap thousands of individuals in a split second is unmatched. But real photos have things their digital versions are lacking: Goosebumps. Heart. Soul. The heart does not warm in the glow of a monitor as it does in the glow of a 4x6 glossy with a love note on the back. That is where the idea of Postcard On The Run came to mind.
PostCard On The Run sets itself apart from other apps with its unique customization tools, including: the ability to add scents to postcards, GPS stamping, and Postal Gopher, an exclusive built-in address retrieval service that makes it easy to get contacts mailing addresses.
On the B2B front, POTR offers a monetization platform for app developers. With photo-sharing apps increasing in popularity, POTR's open software development kit (SDK) offers developers new revenue opportunities by integrating photo printing/shipping services into their apps.
We have created a mobile utility that allows consumers to share physical goods from the comfort of their smart phones and send physical postcards with only an email or cell number.
Innovation, as we see it is creating a solution for problem. There is so much digital noise out there, and change/innovation is happening at a rate of speed that we have never encountered. It's exciting and scary at the same time. Sometimes you need to ask yourself how is this "thing" you are working on going to make someone's life better or a business more efficient. Do your best to solve a real world problem and not make more problems.
The most challenging aspect of starting up Postcard on the Run so far is every time we introduce a new concept or feature and the time it takes to architect, test, de-bug and push live. Then when it's live, how do we share with the world (on a mass level) to "Look over here!! We just launched XYZ".
The most rewarding aspect of POTR is feeling like you are on the front lines of digital and mobile. We hear from our user base how much they love the product and we work with a team of investors that believe in our vision. Having a partner, Selena Gomez, that helps our company address a new audience is also very rewarding.
For the future of Postcard on the Run, we have in store: better cameras, better connectivity, trust in mobile commerce and a general desire to document life in a tangible way. We are at an interesting intersection of mobile to physical goods. We want to continue to expand our product offering and be an active participant in the business of memories.
Let's remember the living room walls. The office desk frame. The magnet on your fridge (we still eat right?). Let's never lose sight of what it feels like to hold a picture of a loved one in your hands and close to your heart. Let's keep marching toward online efficiency, but let's remember to look back over our shoulders now and then.