Email makes it easier to manage business and personal communications. But what do you do with the paper mail that still comes to your mailbox and clutters up your desk?
What if you could digitize most of that as well and keep it on your hard drive or in the cloud rather than in your office?
A startup called Outbox aims to do just that with an unconventional approach that involves intercepting your snail mail and creating digital copies for you instead.
How Outbox Works
You sign up for the $4.99 per month service, it’s free the first month. After that, an Outbox employee comes to your door to pick up your mail about three times a week. Your paper mail is scanned digitally and then you can sort through it at your leisure via web, iPhone, Android or iPad. Other items like small parcels or Netflix DVDs, for example, are placed in an Outbox branded mailer and left at your door or delivered to the address you designate and you are notified of the delivery.
While sorting your mail digitally via your Outbox account, you can categorize it by creating folders for bills, coupons, finances and invitations. Unsubscribe to junk mail you no longer want to receive right online. If there is any mail you want to receive in original paper form, just request it and Outbox will re-deliver it for you.
The service is not available everywhere. In fact, currently you can only get it in Austin, where Outbox was founded, and now San Francisco.
But the company just raised $5 million in funding and is planning to expand to other communities.
Testimonials from the company’s existing customers list a couple of obvious benefits in the video below. You essentially don’t have to collect your mail ever again. You can review snail mail you received while out of town by simply checking it from your online account. You can easily eliminate junk mail, sort your remaining mail into categories and most importantly never have to deal with paper mail piling up at your office or home again.
Not everyone thinks this is a good idea, of course. Features editor Laura June of The Verge said a few months ago that the service is overcomplicated. She claims you are essentially paying for someone else to pick up and digitize your mail and then re-deliver it to you if you really want it. The process is likely going to add another day at least to the amount of time it takes you to get your mail. June also points out that with things like bills already available online, there isn’t any point in digitizing them too.
Still, the world is full of services — some very successful — that people pay for, to avoid the hassles of doing something themselves.
Issues of privacy have also been raised, but as Sarah Perez of TechCrunch pointed out recently, most people already receive most of their most sensitive mail in digital form anyway.
Would you be interested in a service that digitizes your snail mail?