The first thing most people think about when they hear “evite” is “ad spam attack.” For years we all hated the service, but we used it anyway because it’s free and everyone else used it.
These days Facebook events has replaced evite for a lot of us. Facebook events doesn’t exactly scream “classy,” but at least people don’t cringe at the thought of using it.
For the last few years, though, a small startup called Paperless Post has emerged that lets people create beautiful event invitations online. Paperless Post isn’t free. In fact, that seems to be part of the attraction. You have to pay to use it, and just like certain trophy virtual goods that you can buy on Zynga games, the fact that there’s a real cost seems to create perceived value.
The company has sent some 50 million invitations, has raised $6.3 million in funding and is break even with 35 employees in New York and San Francisco. Marissa Mayer uses Paperless Post for her events. Metropolitan Museum of Art, The White House executive branch, The National Gallery and even The Prince of Wales have all used the premium invitation service.
It’s a fascinating case study against the notion that people will always choose free over for pay online services.
Evite Clones Paperless Post With Postmark
Copy/Paste innovation is certainly nothing new in our world. Evite has even defended itself in years past against services, including threatening a lawsuit against Socializr for creating a “confusingly similar” service.
It’ll take a little verbal dancing for evite to defend it’s latest move, though – an outright rip off of Paperless Post’s business. Evite’s Postmark hasn’t officially launched yet, but they promote it on the evite home page and people have noticed it.
“Evite’s Postmark looks like someone hired a programmer and told them to copy every aspect of Paperless Post,” says the person who pointed it out to me. And that’s true. The business model is identical – charge for every invitation sent, plus optional fees for specialized designs and other customizations. The pricing is nearly identical.
Evite has also copied the exact look and feel of a number of the Paperless Post invitations as well.
Of course, Paperless Post could hardly have hoped that no one would ever copy their product and business model. But the hypocrisy of Evite is pretty comical here. I particularly like the line they use at the bottom of the Postmark website – “The comfort from knowing that Evite Postmark is as reliable, effective and innovative as Evite.”
And I certainly don’t weep for Paperless Post. In fact, this is great for their business. As much as Postmark has retreated from the stain of the evite brand on its website, most people will still understand where this service came from and remember the years of horror using the evite service. My guess is Postmark will just raise awareness of Paperless Post, and even more people will flock to the service when they want to send a premium event invitation.