Mail Digitizing Service Outbox Opens To All San Francisco Residents

Outbox, a startup that digitizes your physical mail and makes it available on the web and via iPhone, Android, and iPad apps, says that it’s now generally available in San Francisco.

After a trial period in Austin, Outbox launched in San Francisco earlier this year, but it was a beta version of the service with a wait list — the company says there are still thousands of people on that list who should get in now that Outbox is available to anyone in the city.

In advance of today’s news, we went on a mail run with Outbox co-founder Evan Baehr and one of the company’s “un-postmen” Francis Sanchez. One of the misconceptions about Outbox, Baehr said, is that its users are “all nerds.” And sure, he admitted that “digital natives” are a big part of the early customer base, but he added:

We actually have a lot of different demographics that have found things about Outbox that are interesting. So we have a lot of moms on the platform who just want to be better managers of their home communication. We’ve got a lot of travelers who are away for businesses, consultants or salespeople, and they want to be able to manage this important workflow when they’re not at their house.

There are, naturally, privacy concerns about having a startup open up all your physical mail. Outbox tries to address those concerns with background checks on its un-postmen, shredding and recycling all the physical mail that you don’t want, and offering $1 million in identity theft insurance.

“We can lay out all the extreme measures we’ve gone through to keep your mail safe, [and] there are certain people out there that just aren’t convinced by that,” Baehr acknowledged. “And you know what, at the end of the day, Outbox isn’t for everybody.”

Baehr suggested that the “best testament to what we can pull off” is that as far as the team is aware, Outbox has not yet had any security breaches. (In the video, it sounds like Baehr is suggesting that Outbox has processed more than 1 million pieces of mail, but a spokesperson clarified that the company has processed more than 300,000 pieces, resulting in more than 1 million images.)

The interview with Baehr and with Sanchez also illustrates some of the processes that Outbox has put in place for collecting your mail. Those are particularly important, Baehr said, because they allow the company to keep costs down and charge customers only $7.99 a month.

Since the launch, the company also raised a $5 million Series A. As for what’s next, Baehr said Outbox is planning its launch in New York City.