Wouldn’t it be amazing if right now, everyone across the country sent Congress a postcard with their face on the front and their personal message on the back telling these politicians to do their job?
This was one evening back in October 2013 during the government shutdown and I was sitting in a fluorescent-lit, downtown Manhattan conference room with my
age-old friend, Sam, and a business associate of his, David.
Going into this meeting, I had a pretty good grasp on how most non-profits engaged their supporters online—through e-petitions, #hashtags and other
low maintenance, low impact methods. But I also understood from my experience that most inspired people wanted to do more around the issues and
causes they cared about, beyond a click or two. They yearned to participate and feel a part of something bigger. They wanted to have a real, tangible
impact and effect change.
I was in this room sharing the Congress idea with David as a possible way to transform one of his web properties, Postcard.com, into a collective action,
social impact platform.
David immediately loved the idea, using postcards as “a physical Twitter” and, as an experienced entrepreneur himself with an amazing zeal for
taking action, asked what the next steps were to make this happen.
There were many steps needed to start hammering Washington with individualized paper postcards, but on that night, we did make a commitment to build a
company that had the capacity and the will to do so. With David’s printing expertise, Sam’s financial acumen and my marketing and philanthropy
chops, we set off to create The New Postcard.
From the first days, a few basic principles were established that constituted the core of what Postcard is today:
1. Be, Don’t Act Socially Responsible. When we set out to incorporate the new Postcard entity, we wanted to be socially responsible, and not just blow smoke at a trendy topic. Starting
with the legal filing of the company, we formed Postcard.com as a PBC, or Public Benefit Corporation rather than a straightforward C-Corp. This
ensured that the company was responsible, sustainable and transparent at the very core of its foundation. This was followed by our B-Corp application, which has now led us to be a full on Certified B-Corp.
We knew that paper-and-ink printing can be an amazingly sustainable industry and we wanted to make sure we went
the extra step by sourcing locally for the paper we printed on. We found the perfect partner in New York’s own Mohawk Paper, a company that elegantly aligned with our own beliefs. On top of how our business is run, our
employees each live a life striving to leave the world a better place—from the time they spend volunteering to the transportation choices they make,
the thread of social responsibility ties our entire organization together.
2. New York, New York. I was born in Queens and live here today with my wife and two boys. I have spent my entire life in the New York City area and having been in the city
through its many up and downs. I knew that if I had the chance to start my own business, I wanted it to be New York, New York through and through. And that
is the reality of Postcard. We locally source just about everything, beginning with our headquarters based in downtown Manhattan, to hiring local staff and
freelancers, creating our iOS and Android platforms with Brooklyn’s AppPartner and printing our products at our
Manhattan-based printing facility. Not only do I have a personal connection to this city, but, as
we walk-the-walk of social responsibility, I wanted our local NYC community to be a complete part of that journey with us.
3. Every day, One Step Closer. Since the very early days of Postcard, a particular phrase echoed through our vernacular—One Step Closer. It began as somewhat of a mantra around the
office reminding us of the everyday challenges a start up faces. There are setbacks and detours alongside small wins and big shifts. All of it added up to
the incremental nature of progress and that, every day we found ourselves one step closer to another achievement. The phrase also connected us to
our non-profit partners, who understand that the world’s problems do not disappear overnight, and a persistent drive will ultimately lead to a better
future. Finally, One Step Closer resonated within our brands themselves. The act of sending physical postcards out of protest, for memories or to share
beauty—these actions would bring people one step closer to one another and to what they care about: the bedrock sentiment that Postcard stands upon.
Much has changed since that first meeting, with Postcard now driving physical human connections with social impact, personal story sharing, student civic
engagement, and arts and culture. As these pieces come into place, we continue to dream big and look to what is next, one step closer to our future
- Paul Roer, CEO, June 2015