A few weeks ago we announced a new US$22M investment in a company called Postal.io. Shortly before the news went live, I introduced Postal.io to the wider OMERS Ventures team. What happened next was such a great example of our team culture and approach to portfolio companies (and reassurance that we’d found a winner!), that rather than write a post describing all of the great reasons we invested in Postal, I’m going to show you several of the ideas that came up instead.
To set the scene, here’s a preview of what Postal’s all about.
As a SaaS investor, I spend a lot of time hearing about products and platforms designed to remove the human layer from work processes in favor of efficiency. And I’m an advocate for automation — where it makes sense. Reducing repetitive, reliable and monotonous tasks gives us more time to focus on strategy and growth.
But the rise of automation, specifically in marketing, has actually had an adverse effect on brands looking to establish meaningful connections with consumers. In fact, you could make the argument that in an environment where tech isn’t as mysterious as it used to be, the more specific the algorithms get, the less personal it feels.
Postal is making marketing more thoughtful, by layering a human component onto automated marketing processes, allowing you to market at scale, without losing touch of who you’re talking to.
Sometimes it’s easier to show than tell. Here are a few examples of how our team thought about opportunities to use Postal over the last few weeks:
1. Marking milestones
Postal lets you easily mark the moments and milestones that matter most with a marketplace of carefully curated gifts for any occasion so you can deliver a gift in seconds. For example, some of you might know Chrissy Farr, a new addition to the OMERS Ventures team, who recently welcomed a new addition of her own.
The carefully curated marketplace has lots of options for marking milestones of any kind. To celebrate the newest (and littlest) addition to the OMERS Ventures family, we chose an adorable baby basket, with a mini bouquet (and an alpaca teddy bear!!).
Postal handled all of the fulfillment and delivery, which meant we could just focus on picking the perfect gift, and let Postal handle the rest.
2. Global gifting
One of our portfolio companies is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year. The founder wanted to send a little something to team members around the world, so they could celebrate with a virtual (and socially distanced) cheers.
Since some of their team members are still working from home, Postal lets the founder send a magic link with the option to deliver the gift to any location. It’s simple to redeem — team members just enter their address and Postal handles the rest. A cocktail-kit delivered straight to your door. Cheers to that.
3. Scheduling events
Postal has solved the problem of live events during a global lockdown. Even with things beginning to open up, Postal has changed the way we think about event accessibility, and how easy it is to get together, apart. Team culture at all of our portfolio companies is really strong, and although most teams have found lots of ways to stay connected over the last year, Postal makes it so much easier to maintain a solid community while working remotely — through their events — either virtual or in person. We know of one founder who treated her team to a virtual taco & bourbon night.
Looks like a cool app, you might say — but why do we believe this is an investment that has the potential to create venture-sized returns? Well, there are a couple of reasons, briefly summarized as:
- History has demonstrated that offline marketing works — research shows that it delivers something in the region of 10X the return that a typical digital, email or social campaign delivers. But it is expensive, still requires lots of manual work, and it can be difficult to do the sort of micro-targeting that digital offers. Technology is perfectly positioned to solve these problems.
- We believe we are just at the beginning of a huge market shift to tech-enabled offline marketing. We’re not talking just a basic platform that lets you digitize the offline marketing process by focusing on logistics and fulfillment, but something like Postal that lets people replicate the boutique-style feel of the best and most meaningful gifts…the gifts that inspire a genuine ‘feel good’ moment about a brand. And even better, it offers digital campaign-style metrics, on a dashboard, at a glance.
- We are nearly two years into a global pandemic that has rocked the fundamental core of how people live and work. Being able to rely on someone being at a certain place, at a certain time, reliably, is unlikely to be part of our future. Being able to reach people, without them feeling their privacy is being violated, is a huge win.
Apart from the market and the product, the team building Postal knows what it takes to build a successful business. Co-founders Erik Kostelnik and Jed Danner built and sold TextRecruit together, and like many of the best founders, both were keen to build something even bigger and better. They have recruited some of the best talent out there to run this business right from the get-go.
In less than a year this team has managed to build and launch a product that is competing with the best of them, and is on course to redefine a category from mere’ gifting’ to the strategic use of gifting as a business and revenue driver.
I’ve written a lot about my passion for SaaS businesses that address a specific niche and solve a real problem. Postal is interesting because it addresses a real need by marketers to find modern ways to ‘surprise and delight’ customers new and old…but it does it with a digital lens. However, the applications for what Postal offers could just as easily be woven into the automated processes within other functions like HR and Sales.
Welcome to the family, Erik, Jed and the entire Postal team. We can’t wait to get started!