Because grandma and grandpa may not be using Facebook, a new startup called Tandem Lane is launching a mobile application today that allows families to stay better connected with members of the older generation by turning photos into beautiful and fun postcards you can mail to anyone for a small fee. The idea is to help people share their favorite moments with others offline just as quickly and easily as it is to share online.
The startup was founded by Anila Sitaram Venkat and Chris Lund, whose business backgrounds had them previously working in the health care and elder care space, prompting the idea for Tandem Lane . Lund, for example, worked in health care investing, while Venkat’s first startup ElderBranch was focused on helping families find the right nursing home or long-term care facility for their loved ones.
As a part of that experience, Venkat was introduced to other programs on the non-medical side of the elder care industry that were equally effective, including those which focused on helping those in care situations better connect socially. “That idea of helping that demographic connect socially – which is such an important driver of their health and happiness – really stuck with us,” says Venkat. “And we realized there were some pretty simple ways we could help people stay better connected.”
But the founders also knew that whatever they came up with would have to be really quick and easy to use – everyone today is so busy, it would have to fit into our routines easily without a lot of effort, they believed.
To that end, they’ve succeeded in making their app very simple to use. To get started with Tandem Lane’s service, you install the iOS application on your smartphone, then choose your layout, photo and include a caption. Photos can be pulled from your phone’s camera or Camera Roll, Facebook or Instagram, and then the card will flip over so you can write a short message of up to 400 characters in length. Afterwards, it’s just a matter of filling in the address where you want the card delivered.
Also of note, it’s nice that, upon first launch, the app lets you immediately get started designing your postcard and doesn’t ask you to sign up for an account until you’re ready to actually mail the card. That makes it easier to get going, initially.
Another nice feature is the option in the Tandem Lane address book that lets you text someone to request a person’s address. For example, you might want to text your mom to ask for grandmother’s address.
The new app competes with a few others on the market today, including Sincerely’s Postagram, for example, as well as the digital cards from businesses like Red Stamp or Sincerely Ink, digital-to-print letters from apps like Lettrs, as well as other photo products, like photo books, from places like Shutterfly or Mosaic, and more.
But Tandem Lane’s postcards are of higher quality than those from Postagram, as their images are designed to fill the whole back of the card, just like a traditional postcard, while Postagram’s are smaller in size.
Venkat and Lund say they understand that, with their new app, they’re catering to an elderly demographic who will gradually get more tech-savvy over time, and may not need a service that’s as heavily focused on print media, like postcards. But they say postcards are only the entry point into a larger business they envision which is about helping this demographic better connect with their families in general. Over time, the team says they’d like to expand into other product areas, including those that let the grandparents communicate back with their grandchildren, too.
Tandem Lane is a free download on iTunes, and an Android app is now in the works. Postcards cost a flat $1.99 to send anywhere in the U.S., Canada or Mexico, but the first is free.