Los Angeles Business Journal

Pioneer Pushes Invite Envelope

INTERNET: Evite puts price on premium, ad-free service. By Natalie Jarvey Monday, November 5, 2012

Evite has stopped partying like it’s 1999. The West Hollywood online invitation company has unveiled its first product since launching in the late ’90s.

Although Evite pioneered the ad-driven invitation sent via email, the company is straying from its model with a new line of ad-free invitations that users pay to customize and send out virtually.

The new product, Postmark, has a separate website from Evite’s free cards and features high-quality invitations for everything from baby showers to poker nights.

Hans Woolley, Evite’s chief executive, said Postmark was created to be the company’s luxury line that could be used for more formal events.

“We believe we can bring style and modern etiquette to our online invitations,” he said. “We want to mimic the offline experience.”

Some customers have critiqued Evite over the years because of the large banner ads displayed above invitations on the website. That might be fine for a casual barbecue with friends, but customers haven’t always liked having ads associated with more formal events, such as a 50th wedding anniversary.

Evite addressed those concerns with a 2010 website redesign, which added updated designs and streamlined the process for sending out invitations.

Now the company has gone a step further and to give the option of eliminating the ads entirely with Postmark. Instead, people can buy credits for card customization, such as adding a photo or an insert with parking instructions. The cost comes out to about $5 for 20 to 30 cards, or 25 cents a card or less.

The new invitations put more emphasis on design than standard online cards. In fact, many Postmark designers craft printed cards first and then translate them to the digital image.

Woolley said Postmark gives existing Evite users a larger selection.

“I think our users will use both,” he said. “For those events that you want to be casual, Evite is great. If you want something without ads, Postmark may be the right fit.”

Customized invitations

Evite was the first online invitation company when it launched in 1998. But competitors eventually began offering upscale cards without the ads. New York startup Paperless Post launched in 2008 with customized online invites for a fee. Cocodot in Hollywood also began selling stylized online invitations and printed cards.

Those services have become popular with people looking to have more formal events, said Anna Sergeeva, co-founder of Planana, a Hollywood company that helps plan professional events such as conferences or 5k runs.

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