The system uses Twilio. Twilio sends the messages to a web server which returns an immediate SMS reply to the sender, then queues the message for typing. We don't charge anything for this. I considered getting an SMS short code and charging for messages, but it wouldn't generate enough revenue to be worth it.
We did a thorough job on this, with a web site, videos, code on Github, a modest social media presence, and some press coverage. Zoominfo thinks it's a real company, with revenue of $2,400,000 and 12 employees. One wonders where Zoominfo gets its numbers. They didn't come from us.
How do your couriers know where to deliver the message?
Senders have to send messages in the form "name@location : msg". "Location" has to be in a list of known convention areas ("VENDORS", "AUTHORS", "BAR", etc.) There's an autoresponder to help them get this right, and piles of postcards around the con with instructions. We didn't have that the first year we did this, and the messengers were run ragged calling out names over and over again in various locations. About 80% of the messages get successfully delivered now. We do about 200 messages a day.
It seems strange that the recipient doesn't need to visit the telegraph office
It's in a highly visible location. The first year we were in that location, we made the office look so official that attendees didn't think they should go in. We had to rearrange the place, adding a few chairs for visitors, a water cooler, and "please come in" signs. Now we're also an information center for the convention and get lots of visitors.
What makes this work are the two young people who staff the office. They're both experienced actors; one works Shakespeare festivals and the other is a stage combat instructor.
If you want more details, we have a manual for our operators.
It actually costs $1.62 to do the exact same thing, of sending a photo with some text, international included.
I don't understand your issue with this. Are you opposed to making profit or are you jealous? I know that I am a bit jealous of not coming up with this.
Too often we feel like because someone else did something first, or theirs already became popular, that the opportunity is over. That denies the world your variation, which might turn out to be much better.
Maybe I will give it a go ;)
As for the damaged postcard...once it hits the route it's pretty much beyond our control. If your mail-person isn't careful with the mail, it'll get bent, folded, damaged...
thats fair. I figured higher quality card stock/printing might help prevent scratches.
Try my friend's app!
If you have any issues, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll follow up with you asap. Thank you!
I'd imagine they use the profit from domestic shipments to help subsidize more costly international ones, if it's really $3 regardless of destination.
 The Russian post has a reputation for stealing foreign mail that looks like it might contain money, information about money, or credit cards. I haven't tried it myself: for important stuff I use FedEx or DHL.
In South Africa if I send a letter from one city to another, it can take a week to arrive. For international mail, I usually work on time frames of about a month. I've known stuff to arrive 6 months after being sent. So even if they are able to dispatch post cards from SA, I'd be surprised if the could keep this promise. Going to give it a try though.
So yeah, sms based service would be great here (or rather, something that doesn't cost money when done internationally). On the other hand, this postcard service sounds like it's going to cost me 20 bucks when I take a picture from another continent, which is exactly the use-case here. A 160 byte sms already costs like a euro to send from outside of the EU.
* This is what google translate tells me "shoarma" is in English. I've never seen that word before, not sure it's a thing in America. They're everywhere here.
But yeah SMS services are more rare than they should be.
When they say "text a photo," they mean "describe the photo in your own words," then somebody from their staff goes out looking for a postcard that matches the description and mails it for you.
TBH, I think they could just use Google Images to find a picture that matches the description and print that. No need to pay someone $3 to travel to the other side of the globe and buy a postcard of that Japanese temple, in this day and age. But what do I know of business.
Can you offer international numbers for this, or is your main market the US?
You don't specify on your site where the postcard is being sent from. I assume the US?
It may be an idea to ask specifically for a country to send to, unless perhaps it's in the US. You don't seem to mention this in the text instructions but have Surrey as an example, which is in the United Kingdom. Perhaps a bit confusing? :)
Photo examples of how the finished postcard looks (particularly the back - font, size...etc.) would be helpful I feel.
Just a few comments/ideas, feel free to ignore!
It's not correct to say it's "about as secure and encrypted as it gets". GSM/CDMA networks do employ encryption to and from towers, but it's weak encryption by modern TLS standards, and who knows what happens to it when it leaves the tower? It's certainly not end-to-end encrypted between your customer and your server and could be silently eavesdropped at multiple points.
And if you're receiving and processing the SMS that contains the card details it's disingenuous to say "[we] have no idea what your credit card numbers actually are". Yes you do. You may discard that information after you trade it with Stripe for a token, but you had access to it, and the customer has no guarantee that you've discarded it.
Payment form and saved card details are all handled by Stripe, and the info never even hits our servers.
Is there some mechanism for instructing you to forget my credit card details (destroy the token on Stripe)?
Yours is an exact replica fwiw.
It would also solve the "what if someone else inherits my phone number" comment also in this thread.
and that closed last year.
I've been using Bill Atkinson's app for postcards (~$1.50/postcard) and it has worked great!
It's a bit far-fetched, I know.
Also the owner responded elsewhere in the thread that they had some issues and you should try again.