I happened upon your Kickstarter page, in which you're launching a business based on connecting pen pals with each other, and was personally hooked: I've had pen pals my whole life! Pens Plus Pals is 100 percent a social media network -- the same as my mom’s quilting group or my dad’s bowling league.
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But you raise valid questions around what potential exists for critical mass of users. Through a private, digital channel, she tells me about her customs and traditions and the super insane ways that arranged marriages go wrong. And if so, are the likes of Snapchat and Twitter and Facebook just updated versions of our tween-age pen pal networks, but made more accessible to all? Given that we live in a far more interconnected world than we did in the '90s, how can Pens Plus Pals offer something that people don't basically already have? We can all feel good that marginalized populations still receive vital correspondence and connection.
I may be able to address your skepticism by having you supply the answers: My gut tells me (because the feeling is mutual) that there’s something about the authenticity and the legacy of a letter that makes for a drastically different experience and connection. I couldn't send her a letter if I wanted to -- it'd get intercepted by her family. I'm about to test our fledging pen pal relationship, so hang on to your keyboard: You just dissed social media, but then said that you believe there's "a market for any business assembling like-minded people and creating a mechanism for them to share what they love" -- which sure does sound like social media to me! Part of the fun is the anticipation, the absence of immediate gratification.
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I’d spend hours crafting the perfect letters to my new friends from exotic places like Akron and Lubbock. My answer: because I'm fascinated by how other people live. I wrote letters in the '90s because, uh, it was easier than Morse code? Long term, I’d love all members to be able to send me a forward-dated letter (for themselves, for a friend, anyone) and we will send it to them on the date of their choosing.
Anything in comparison to my hometown of 500 people seemed positively cosmopolitan. But today, I have a pen pal in an East Asian country. I’d also love to introduce a corporate-social-responsibility component where every membership means we match someone in a nursing home or homeless shelter.
(I let him down gently.) But as someone who covers entrepreneurs for a living, I admit skepticism: Is there a market for this? We use our brains differently when we can't rely on the backspace button and have to write something down.
I can't think of another friend of mine who has a pen pal. So now, the ,000 question (literally): If you build it, will they buy?
So I'm eager to hear: Are there enough people out there like me, who still love writing letters to strangers? Your pen pal, Jason Related: The Business Benefits of the Handwritten Letter Jason, I’m glad we both morphed from letter-loving tweens of the mid-'90s into adults with a passion for this vital but undervalued communication form. I could go to a bar and meet a suitable man or woman but that doesn’t stop people from using matching services for ease and comfort.
I shared similar experiences growing up, with the glaring omission of any marriage proposals. People will pay for things that they perceive as valuable, have a clearly defined set of what they consider "perks", and have amazing support and engagement. So being a Pen-Member means more than the initial match (or unlimited matches), it offers Pen Perks along the way including replenishing stationery and gifts every quarter, a T-shirt, invites to community events and prompts from a dedicated Pen-Mentor to keep the creative juices flowing.
Every profile has full color profile photos and album photos, self intro, detailed info, matchmaking info and real time live chat capabilities compatible with a web cam to guarantee you find someone special.