Hire People Who Are Better Than You
“Building this team was probably the most important thing we’ve done. In the beginning, it’s obvious who you’re going to hire. For us, it was obvious we were going to hire the person who can code better than we can. Maybe you’re going to hire the person who can crunch numbers in Excel better than you can, and that’s obvious for you. But the more people you hire, the closer it hits to home. That’s when you come up against what defines whether you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur, which is, do you have the humility to see someone and know that they’re better than you at something?” – Alexa Hirschfeld
Find a Co-Founder You Can Trust
“Starting a company is a very trying and emotionally intense endeavor, particularly when you have no track record and you’re young. I think it’s difficult to see someone who you’re really close to putting themselves through that hardship. But that feeling is counterbalanced by so many advantages. The level of trust that [Alexa and I] have in each other is something that I don’t know we could ever have so quickly with another partner. Not only are we siblings, but we’ve always been especially close, and we’ve always been especially tuned into each other’s heads. So I know what I can trust Alexa on implicitly and what I can’t trust her on implicitly. And I think she has the same level of awareness about me. So we can operate very freely and very competently within our domains. There is also a forgiveness and understanding that’s incredibly helpful in difficult time.” – James Hirschfeld
Don’t Be Afraid to Communicate Unpleasantness
“A large part of running a fledgling company is constant course correction and having hard conversations and dark conversations. You’ve got to discuss all different types of unpleasantness. So, if you were dealing with somebody that you couldn’t be straight with because you thought you might hurt their feelings or make them think that you didn’t believe in them, then that would be just another thing to have to manage. But if you never have to walk on eggshells because you can rapid fire bad things back and forth without it being personal, that is actually hugely valuable.” – Alexa Hirschfeld
Siblings Alexa and James Hirschfeld came up with the idea for Paperless Post at a Harvard party in 2008 while brainstorming a unique way to invite guests to James’ 21st birthday party. Their creation allowed people to send digital cards that have the look of actual stationery. Within one month, the president of Harvard was using Paperless Post as a platform for organizing alumni events.
By 2010, the siblings had secured three rounds of funding totaling $6.3 million from investors including Ram Shiram and Mousse Partners. The company started turning a profit in December of that year and hasn’t stopped growing.
In April 2012, Paperless Post raised another $6 million in funding from RRE Ventures, SV Angel, Tim Draper and others, bringing the total funding to $12 million.
Paperless Post has sent more than 85 million electronic invites to date and continues to grow its platform. In October 2012, the company launched PAPER by Paperless Post, giving users the option to have their customized invitations digitally printed on cardstock to send off-line, as well as online. In April 2013, they expanded the business further, partnering with the fine stationer Crane & Co. to offer engraved and letter-pressed wedding invitations and personal stationery.
Today, Paperless Post has raised over $55 million, has over 100 million users and 100 employees.