Thankbot: Handwritten Letter Service — Idea to Execution in Less than 6 days
Not to start on a morbid note, but my mom has multiple sclerosis. Her physical disabilities limit her as to what she accomplish. I had been toying with startup ideas for quite a while, but I knew whatever I ended up going with — I wanted to involve her. Something she could take pride in, something she was passionate about, and something she was good at.
Over the last few months, I’ve read more than I ever have in my entire life. Medium, Reddit, Slack groups, startup books, you name it — just soaking it all in. I was quickly plagued with wantrepreneurship — all these ideas, but no action.
Customers love to share a good handwritten note
Finally, an idea came to me — a handwritten letter service. I don’t know about you guys, but every time I get a handwritten note from customer service, I’m impressed! The fact that a brand / store / startup would actually take time out of their day to write notes and envelopes meant something. I immediately did some research on Twitter & Instagram, and it seemed I wasn’t alone. People are much more likely to share handwritten notes than other direct mail. The fact is most people don’t even open their mail — but whenever an envelope is handwritten, I always open it up! This was perfect. My mom had written me notes every day as a kid in my lunch box — her handwriting was perfect. This was definitely something she could do.
Within hours, I bought a domain for thankbot.com and got to building. I had seen other handwritten letter services — but none of them quite had the look and appeal or ease that I was going for. I was looking to appeal to SaaS owners, real estate agents, small businesses and startups. I wanted to alleviate the duties of customer service reps and have them pass their customers to us. I knew the value of time and figured if we could provide the cards, envelopes, postage and time for around $4–5, we’d have a chance.
The few competitors I found were either focused on personal handwritten cards or on automation. While automation is important and will become a bigger part of Thankbot, all of the sites lacked design and simplicity. I felt the reason the handwritten note was so effective — was the design and craft itself. I also wanted the client to be able to send a note within seconds from their dashboard.
The Chaos and the Aftermath
My mind was all over the place for a few days — I wanted to build in templates, more customization, drop-ins, etc — but the other part of me was just SHIP IT. I had never launched my own product, but had built countless websites for other startups. I toyed with which technologies I should use — was this the long term choice? The right choice? What if it wasn’t going to be flexible enough? Finally, I came to my senses and shipped it.
If you build it, they will come.
We’ve been live for about two days and I’ve already vetted more than 6 scribes to help my mom write notes. I’ve realized that the “if you build it, they will come” quote is kind of bull shit. Building it is the easy part, getting people to the site is the hard part. My world is spinning as I submerge myself in growth hacking, startup blogs, more slack groups, and listen to everyone’s advice. I’m afraid to misstep, yet if I don’t take any steps, this won’t go anywhere. It’s completely scary, but completely f-ing awesome. I’m so grateful to live in a day where you don’t have to be born into a certain class to make moves or to become an entrepreneur — the internet is full of tools and information to make it possible to launch a startup in 6 days. How did we get so lucky??
World, meet Thankbot.