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Matt Douglas, Founder and CEO of Punchbowl.com

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A Big Idea: Scratch & Sniff Digital Invitations

This morning, Punchbowl announced Scratch & Sniff Digital Invitations – a big idea my team has been working on for several months. We unveiled a video about how we believe this new digital invitations product will transform the industry forever. Yes, these are digital invitations that look and smell great. Frankly, it may be the best idea we’ve ever had. (Only, have two minutes? See it to believe it).

I’d like to share with you how we got to this moment — how a crazy idea became something we actually pursued — and three questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves to decide if your big idea is something you should go after.

Question 1: What can the past inform us about the future?

The journey to Scratch & Sniff Digital Invitations started with some reminiscing about the history of party invitations. I spent some time thinking about the evolution of invitations over the last century, and I realized that there have been three distinct eras. Up until 30 years ago, most party invitations were paper, sent through a traditional mail service. In the 1990s and the dawn of the Internet, invitations transitioned to email delivery with sites like Evite.  A decade later, new platforms like Punchbowl moved technology forward in the email delivery era. In 2018, my company led the charge on the third era: invitations delivered by text message. The past year has been one of remarkable growth for the company, fueled by SMS, the latest way to send invitations.

So as the technology leader in the celebrations industry, I asked myself “What’s next?” and “Where do we go from here?” That’s when we came up with the concept of invitations delivered with additional metadata that communicates the sentiment of the celebration. We believe smell technology is the next frontier for consumers. (Just look at the development of oNotes, NeOse, and the bacon alarm clock to see the innovation happening in this space). Scratch & Sniff Digital Invitations are the next frontier for our industry.

TIP: When you come up with a new idea, ask yourself where it lies in the evolution of your industry. Is it the logical next step? Is there evidence that other innovators are investing in that space? If the answer is yes, you might be on to something.

Question 2: Is my company suitable for the challenge?

To successfully execute on a groundbreaking, innovative idea, it must align with your overall company vision and the core strengths of your team. We’ve said “no” to many projects over the years that did not meet our strict criteria. Scratch & Sniff Digital Invitations are different. At Punchbowl, our vision is “A world where all invitations and greeting cards are digital.” We want to create a platform that is BETTER than paper. Scratch & Sniff fits perfectly with our vision.

We also had to carefully consider the capabilities of our team. I have the privilege to work with an incredibly talented group of developers, marketers, and business folks at Punchbowl, and we’ve never met a technical challenge we couldn’t solve. Despite the obvious challenges to bring a product like this to market, we know we have an amazing team.

TIP: Your crazy idea must fit with the vision and capabilities of your company. Does it align with the core strengths of your team? If you hesitate on either of these questions, table your idea in favor of one that better fits your vision.

Question 3: Is this the right time for the innovation? 

So much of success in business is about timing. The right time for a product to hit the market. The right time to pursue a partnership. The right time to accelerate growth. While some may question the timing of our announcement (Scratch & Sniff Digital Invitations are still in beta test mode), we know that this innovation will delight our users and strike fear in the hearts of our competitors. The time is now to communicate that Punchbowl is the technology leader in the celebrations industry.

TIP: Even if it doesn’t seem like the world is ready for your crazy idea, ask yourself if it’s the right time for your company. Does it make sense for your team to work on this idea now? If the answer is yes, take the leap.

Ok, ENOUGH already… you have to watch the video of Scratch & Sniff digital invitations. Enjoy!


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©2018 Matt Douglas