Talk About the Power of the Written Word: NYC Startup Lettrs Raises $1.5M



Let’s face it: there are some things you just can’t communicate is 140 characters or less. Nor should you try. And now you don’t have to.

Lettrs is the first mobile technology for traditional letter writing via mobile-to-cloud or mobile-to-mail. They’re reviving the lost art of letter-writing. And still let you save on the stamp.

Users from 174 countries and in 80 languages have already established millions of penpal connections in a complete embracing and reinvention of tasteful correspondence.

Powered by the market’s first-ever “social signature” which enables writers to hand-sign their messages, the iPad and iPhone versions of lettrs creates a writing desk for the digital age. iOS users can select writing filters, attach photos, and tags, now signed as digital memorabilia, to create customized messages that are visually appealing, easy-to-read and meaningful.

The free iPhone app is an extension of its popular Android app, the premier global messaging platform for mobile-to-mobile letter writing.

“Our new iPhone and iPad applications allow mobile users to discover the art of letter writing…of slowing down, even in a mobile medium. We challenged the misconception that social messaging has to be disposable by making letter writing personal and valuable again,” said Drew Bartkiewicz, the cofounder and CEO of lettrs. “While other messaging apps seek to extinguish words, lettrs aims to distinguish them.”

In three months since launching Android version, the global messaging platform has already reached close to 1 million downloads.

The company also just published its first book, “Poetguese” – it’s a book of lettrs sourced from the mobile network, includes a foreword by international best selling author and current lettrs user, Paulo Coelho.

Bartkiewicz – yes, the man of lettrs himself – tells us more.

Who were your investors?  

Our investors were angels across investment sectors of mobile and SAAS, with previous investments in LinkedIn, Klout, Amazon, Facebook, and salesforce.com

Tell us about your product.  

lettrs is a messaging platform to power the next generation of personally signed mobile correspondence.

How is it different?  

Unlike apps that hide or dispose of your words, lettrs enhances words based on design, time, signatures, and permanence.  Writers must devote a minute or more to their personal message and hand sign it before the “publish letter” or “private delivery” option is activated.  We have, in essence, codified a window of tiny reflection in a hurried landscape.   lettrs is the platform for the more meaningful communication that is possible in a mobile world.  Our social signature option is highly popular: it brings the personal to social.

What market you are targeting and how big is it?  

We’re a mobile app, which is a $24B market.

drew head

Drew Bartkiewicz

What’s your business model?   

Help people fall in love with letter writing in the mobile messaging network for lasting words.  Eventually, premium features, such as ad visibility, and services will be offered, but for now, we already power lettrs in 80 languages, translated real time.

What was the funding process like?  

Methodical and always showing a return on previous investment.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?  

Turning down people who wanted to come this last round.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?   

A great idea.  Also, having an extreme respect for capital, use of funds, and timing of the “quality social” idea with the market. As a former salesforce.com and Mashery business executive, and previous start up achiever with a recent exits on Ridescout, as an advisor, and CloudInsure as co-founder, investors have confidence in my business skills as an entrepreneur.

lettrs also has been cited as a Best New Android App from The Next Web and had grown 700% with the Android release.

The CEO is a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War and West Point graduate who saw the need for more lasting communications with mobile technologies.

lettrs is the counter to snaps, chats, tweets, and other fleeting words bouncing off our minds with lowering impact.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?  

Several million personal lettrs in 80 languages, within a global network of pen pals using SMS capabilities for new letter experiences.

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?  

Work hard before getting funding. Work even harder once you get it.

Who is the most likely recipient of your users ‘hand written’ letters?  

lettrs uses proprietary methods to enhance mobile messages, but as an complementary service the company will convert that hand signed message to an actual post delivery, for a fee.  A very high percentage of lettrs are delivered right to the iPhone, Android, or Tablet device, where the users can privately save messages in the lettrs cloud, or ask to share the letter “with a broader audience,” within the lettrs network crossing 174 countries.

What’s the most popular design theme?  

“Among the Trees.” It just invites you to slow down.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?  

Expanding rapidly with power users and brands that seek a long form messaging strategy to break through to their customers.  Oh yeah, we reinvented the autograph – mobile style – as one of our several filed patents.

It’s starting to get cold out. What’s your favorite NY location to enjoy the last of the warm weather.   

McCarren Park, Brooklyn.

screen568x568-2 screen568x568

About the author: AlleyWatch

AlleyWatch is the destination for startup news; opinions and reviews; investment and product information; events reported, experienced, seen, heard and overheard here in New York. But it’s who we are that makes us different: we’re the writers and the entrepreneurs; the investors and the mentors; the lawyers and the marketers; the realtors and the recruiters – the people who work in the industry.

You are seconds away from signing up for the hottest list in New York Tech!

Join the millions and keep up with the stories shaping entrepreneurship. Sign up today.