Postcard Poets

School of Visual ArtsUS


Production / Student


Sana Rao, Nikki Sylianteng


The project was conceived as part of our Entrepreneurial Design course taught by Gary Chou and Christina Cacioppo of Union Square Ventures, as a part of the Interaction Design program. The final goal was to launch a business and earn $1,000 in a month to prepare us for the life of a future entrepreneur. We wanted to create a product or service that would bring to the lives of the customer a meaningful interaction.
Something they would look forward to receiving. we wanted to create a product or service that would bring to the lives of the customer a meaningful interaction.
Something they would look forward to receiving. Sana is a lover of words and Nikki a maker of things. What we had in common was our strong sensitivity and appreciation for nuance of poignant moments in our everyday lives.


We sought concept feedback at several product sessions from people who run their own startups. We also spoke to a handful of new poets from the Bowery Poetry Club in New York to get their thoughts on the concept, its execution, and what their needs and concerns might be. We did an initial test of the general public’s interest through a landing page that collected email addresses of those who wanted to be notified upon launch. It was interesting to see how people described the service on Twitter. We used these findings to further develop our communication strategy. We launched our beta site not long after, and after two months of observation, iterated again, incorporating gifting and The Magician as a curator, which ended up getting 85% of the orders we received.

Because the service was running and not just a conceptual piece, pulling analytics on the activities of the customers on the website, what were they clicking, which curator were they subscribing to, what their concerns were was a constant discussion point in meetings while discussing next steps. The service became a one stop platform to discover and send poetry on postcards.


Many subscribers have written to us telling us how receiving little doses of serendipity is something the world today surely needs. We’ve gotten emails from people who sent postcards to terminally ill loved ones, as well as from secret admirers trying to win someone over. Here are some others:

“Thanks for the breath of fresh air amid the craziness of web offerings.” –Gigi Yellen-Kohn, Seattle, WA

“All the postcards I have received so far are like trophies to me. I have prized them and shall continue to do so. I am sure they have touched the lives and days of many others across the world.” –Shilpa Das, India

“I want to say how much they mean to me… The latest poem I received, ‘The Guesthouse’ by Rumi was so appropriate to where I am at in my life at the moment. I found this to be the case on other occasions as well, that the right poem would arrive at the right time… thank you for the pleasure the postcard poems have brought to my life.” –Janet O’Leary, Ireland.

Some design bloggers/websites of note also published pieces about us which also helped us validate the value of our idea.


The constant feedback from the real audience we have managed to create for ourselves helped us make informed decisions. We were constantly pulling analytics to understand user needs along with the realtime feedback via twitter and the blog: For instance, at one point the numbers showed that not many people were subscribing for ‘The Comic’ one of the curators we had started with, and looking at our inbox noticed many email questions about the flexibility to switch curators at some point in the subscription, especially since most of the subscribers were gifters. So we replaced the comic with a curator called ‘The Magician’ who would essentially pick out the best out of the different curators and send them a good mix of the different genres. Immediately we saw all the customers switching over to the magician since it elevated the component of making a permanent choice for them. We decided on an honest communication of intent from our side, and a constantly updated process blog to keep people in the loop and get feedback from the customers.


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