Bringing happiness through a mobile
Left to right: Raam Thakrar, Oded Ran and Paul Burdin
Oded ran left his role as head of consumer marketing for Windows Phone UK at Microsoft to join start-up Touchnote because, he says: "I thought: 'Why didn't I think of that?'"
Touchnote, founded in 2008 by Raam Thakrar and Paul Burdin, enables users to create and send printed personalised postcards across the world via their mobile phone, tablet or computer. The application was initially developed for the web following a dinner conversation between the founders who couldn't understand why it wasn't easier to send picture cards from mobile phones. Users simply download the app, select an image from their photo library or camera roll, enter some text, the recipient's address and the virtual card will be delivered as a printed one. There is also the option to doodle on pictures or add a small Google map to show the sender's location.
"I thought it was such a clever idea," says Mr Ran, who joined the Touchnote team in 2011. He had spent the previous four years at Microsoft where he was responsible for launching Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 to UK consumers. "Everyone loves receiving a picture card. It's a business that puts a smile on everyone's face.
"A lot of people don't have time to go out and buy a card. This way you can do all your holiday cards while sitting on the tube."
Mr Oded's role when he joined was to help grow Touchnote into a global player. More than two million of the apps have been downloaded on mobile phones, over 750,000 of them on Androids, making it the number one Android postcard app at the time of writing.
The company has printing stations in London, New York and northern Germany and sends postcards to more than 200 countries for $1.49 in the US, €1.49 in Europe and £1.49 in the UK (first class Royal Mail). Sixty per cent of customers are from the US. The UK is the second largest market with around 20 per cent.
Mr Oded, 33, identifies the greeting card industry as worth $5 billion in the US alone. Unsurprising then that Touchote team have recently launched a second product, Hugmail.
Aimed at the older generation, Hugmail uses larger font sizes and enables users to set reminders, such as "send grandma a postcard every two weeks."
Mr Ran says: "We are launching Hugmail as a separate brand to connect the digital generation with those who haven't grown up with the internet. A lot of older people end up missing out on news from family because they don't spend as much time online and aren't using smartphones. That's where Hugmail comes in."
Now based in London, Jerusalemite Mr Oded has ten years experience launching web and mobile products in the UK, US and Israel. Before Microsoft, where he was also head of mobile services UK, he was in charge of product management at Retailx, a global leader in retail software. He has degrees from the Hebrew University and Harvard Business School and was a team leader in the Israeli Defense Forces.