Outbox shutters its digitizing snail mail service, says it’s working on new product

Outbox shutters its digitizing snail mail service, says it’s working on new product

Outbox is shutting the doors on its mail service. The company made the announcement in a blog post saying that the time was right following disappointing results from its marketing and user acquisition numbers. However, while the product is closing, the company is already working on a new product, which it has not revealed the name for yet.

Founded as a way to take correspondences you receive in your mailbox and convert them into digital pieces of work, Outbox eventually serviced more than 2,000 customers from across the United States, with 25,000 on the waiting list. It wound up scanning more than 1.5 million pages and delivered over 250,000 requested mail packages.

Unfortunately while the traction is impressive, things apparently weren’t that prosperous internally. The company’s co-founders write that its marketing efforts were unsuccessful. Specifically, they cite that an effort to onboard the 4,000 individuals on its San Francisco waitlist led to an email marketing campaign that resulted in a yield of under 10 percent. Additionally, Outbox saw its user acquisition costs be more than $50 per lead.

Besides its marketing efforts, the service says that its “density numbers” remained “consistently flat” causing it to spend more than it projected.

The realization soon hit Outbox that its operation deficit was too high and that its situation was too far out of its control to change. But not one to leave off any lessons learned, the founders did spell out several things they took away from their experience:

  • Giant, complex systems appear insurmountable, but aren’t—they were built by people just like you and me.
  • The main asset the government (and big companies) has is time—which is the resource of which startups have the least.
  • You may think government organizations are completely, insanely backwards; you are wrong—they are worse.
  • If you can’t find a hardware solution to your needs, build it—it’s not that hard.
  • Doing extraordinary things for customers is time consuming and hard—but very worthwhile.
  • Life is too short to pursue anything other than what you are most passionate about.

Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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