Invitation Innovation

E-cards evolve beyond straightforward standards.

Invitation Innovation

MORE THAN A decade after Evite launched its simple RSVP-based platform, a new generation of companies is rethinking the digital invite. Its goal: Make e-cards as engaging as the events they promote. Here, a look at four startups rocking the $7.5 billion greeting-card industry.



Pitch Elegant invites for high-end parties

Ideal events Weddings, bar mitzvahs

Audience 1.5 million unique visitors per month; most are in their thirties

Best perks Custom fonts; e-envelopes (with liners); a “wording assistant” feature that suggests both formal and informal phrasing

Bottom line Users pay 5¢ per “stamp” to send sponsor-free cards, because “nobody wants to see ads next to their wedding invitation,” says CEO and cofounder Alexa Hirschfeld, who adds that her site is now profitable.


Pitch Crowdsourced creative designs

Ideal events Bridal showers, child birthdays

Audience 340,000 unique visitors per month; most are postcollegiate women

Best perks New cards dreamed up daily in the Pingg Studio (Martha Stewart is one of the site’s 1,000-plus designers); seamless sharing on Facebook and Twitter; the option to send print versions for $2.50 a pop plus postage

Bottom line Although most Pingg users send free ad-supported cards, roughly 20% pay $10 per month for ad-free cards with additional benefits. “We’ll be cash positive by the end of the year,” says CEO Lorien Gabel.


Pitch Humorous cards for any occasion

Ideal events Bachelor/bachelorette parties, random weekend activities

Audience 1.6 million unique visitors per month; most are young urban professionals

Best perks A smartphone app and a steady stream of quirky topical cards — chiefly from users, who submit some 500 new ideas every day

Bottom line Ads from HBO, Ford, and others keep all cards free; branded T-shirts, mugs, and posters add even more revenue. “We’re trying to become a topical comedy destination,” says CEO Duncan Mitchell.


Pitch Start-to-finish party planning

Ideal events Holiday parties, adult birthdays

Audience More than a million unique visitors per month; most are thirtysomething moms

Best perks Venue recommendations; party-activity suggestions; a smartphone app; an algorithm that suggests ideal event dates

Bottom line Basic cards can be sent free, but premium memberships (starting at $4.99 per month) bring bonus features.

Illustrations by Oliver Munday