Mobile postcard startup Sincerely finally hot, now that Apple is a rival

Apple launched a product that's almost identical to Sincerely's -- and that's giving the 6-month-old startup a big boost.

Matt Brezina's startup, Sincerely, is riding on publicity created by Apple. Sincerely

Normally a startup like San Francisco-based Sincerely, which makes an app that lets you create and send postcards from your phone, would be in big trouble when a company like Apple enters its market. But Sincerely isn't ready to cede its fledgling business to the Cupertino giant, and today is announcing a new product line for the holidays, a new board member and a $3 million funding round. (Notice I didn't write that the funding is "new"--more on that in a moment).

When Apple rolled out its Cards app and service earlier this month, there was plenty of speculation that Sincerely's key product, Postagram, would be among Apple's roadkill . But that doesn't seem to be in the cards. In fact, CEO Matt Brezina says Apple's announcement created a PR bonanza that has ignited his business.

"Within a week of Apple's announcement, we were covered all over--from CNET to NPR, Fox News and everywhere," says Brezina, who says Sincerely has been clocking record revenue days, although he won't talk specifics. "We're the incumbent that Apple is seen as going after. That's brought us a lot of attention."

Today, with no help from Apple, Sincerely is announcing that it raised $3 million from Spark Capital, the venture fund behind Foursquare and Tumblr. Actually, Sincerely raised the money when it launched in April -- a fact that it left off its press release today. Brezina says he tried to keep the investment quiet because he had no reason to bring attention what he was building. But that was before Apple came along with Cards.

Sincerly also announced that Bijan Sabet, a general partner at Spark, is joining its board.

"Sincerely fits in quite nicely with our mobile first point of view," says Sabet, who is on Tumblr's board and, until last month, was on Twitter's. Other participants in the funding include First Round Capital, Charles River Ventures and SV Angel along with a host of angel investors.

Sincerely's rolling out templates for holiday cards. Sincerely
In addition, Sincerely is rolling out a line of greeting cards called Sincerely Ink. That line will let people with an iPhone, iPad or Android create and send holiday cards with templates designed by professionals. These 5x7 inch postcards can be printed and delivered for $1.69 each in the United States, and will be available in the Apple app store and Google marketplace in the next few weeks.

Brezina argues that he and his 20-person team have an advantage over Apple because mobile gift giving is Sincerely's only business.

"This is not what [Apple CEO] Tim Cook is thinking about every day," says Brezina. "We have the advantage of focus. We won't see anything new from them in this space for the next year, but we'll have at least six iterations."

And, hey, since $3 million is small by Silicon Valley standards, maybe Apple will keep doing Brezina favors in the marketing department.

About the author

Regina Hope Sinsky writes about startups. She studied journalism at the College of Charleston and spent several years in television writing and production. After moving to the Bay Area she decided all the best stories came from startups, so she jumped into tech writing. Regina specializes in interviews with interesting people doing nonobvious things with technology.

 

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