If you’ve ever seen the film ‘Her,’ you’ll be familiar with the idea of a futuristic company offering perfectly penned letters – “Beautiful Handwritten Letters.com” in the film’s case. But we recently discovered a company offering that service for real, and we’re smitten.
Inkpact is a UK startup led by the charismatic Charlotte Pearce, based in London but employing writers across the country. It’s mainly used for brands and businesses to talk to their customers in a way they’ll remember, but they’ve recently branched out into wedding invitations – and Christmas cards – for individuals too.
Inkpact is the perfect mashup of old and new, tech and tradition – clients upload their projects to an online portal, where they’re distributed to writers who transform the copy into flawless wet words with real fountain pens. Those writers photograph their work, upload it to the portal, then hand-stamp and post the letters and notecards to their recipients.
Tracking results is obviously a little trickier than with something you can click on, but Charlotte tells us it’s still possible – Inkpact advise all their clients to follow up with a call or an email to make sure it was received. But often they don’t have to – apparently, the joy of receiving a handwritten letter prompts a feeling of reciprocity, and people take the time to call or email the brand to say thank you.
From the follow-ups they’ve done so far, Inkpact’s letters have a 100% open and read rate. Not something you’re likely to achieve with an email.
Since launching in 2013, Inkpact’s grown from a tiny startup team to having more applications from writers than they know what to do with.
It’s pretty amazing to think that in 2015, there are jobs available hand-writing letters – and demand has been enormous. Students, stay-at-home parents and people who can’t have a traditional job for whatever reason can find easy, fun employment writing letters, as long as their handwriting’s good enough. Inkpact provide training, which can be completed online for people who struggle to leave the house. It’s a really lovely way of providing jobs for people who aren’t well served by the market.
Charlotte says, “Our writers are mostly mothers and fathers who want to bring up their children at home while still earning an income. As our business scales, so does the positive impact that we can have on families.”
Speaking to Charlotte, you don’t get the impression she knows how inspiring she is. She rescheduled our original meeting with enormous apologies because she’d been invited at the last minute to Buckingham Palace, having been unexpectedly chosen as a UK delegate for the One Young World summit. This is her second engagement with Buck House recently, as Inkpact were asked to send samples of their writing work to the palace for consideration.
“People keep referring to me as a woman in tech,” Charlotte says bemusedly, “which I didn’t think I was. But I suppose I am,” she continues, going on to describe the online platform she masterminded that allows customers to order real-life inked letters in just a few clicks. We’d say that qualifies her as a woman in tech…! Not to mention a female founder, an advocate for women in business, and one of the best hustlers we’ve ever met.
When Inkpact was just getting going, Charlotte was at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden when she spotted inimitable investor Doug Scott at another table. She dashed out a note (handwritten, of course) and gave it to a staff member to pass on to him, asking for a meeting to talk about her company. The result? Charlotte Pearce is the first woman he’s ever invested in.
Not only this – as a result of his investment in her, and realising it was a bit of a scandal that Angel List hadn’t invested in more women, he set up a female-focussed investment arm to redress the balance.
From chatting to Charlotte, it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t have a whole lot of free time, yet she’s also doing an impressive number of things on the side. She’s pretty much the definition of “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” In addition to Inkpact, she started a business consultancy to help big organisations act like startups – it’s called OR, as in “you could do it this way, OR this way.” It doesn’t even have a website yet, but she’s already furnished with clients.
Did we mention Charlotte also works for her family’s property company, and is looking to write a book for women in business, too? The woman is a machine, and we’ve no doubt she’s the UK’s next Richard Branson.
For now, though, she’s focussing on getting her company some love on Product Hunt, and taking orders. Handwritten letters cost between £7.50 and £10, depending on stationery and whether you want a personalised sealing wax stamp. Which you obviously do, because that’s awesome.
We’ll be watching our doormats with anticipation.
Main image © iStock/Pali Rao