Shalom Life | August 22, 2014

Startup Club: Lob

The Sunnyvale-based startup allows even the smallest companies to have access to commercial printing and mailing services

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: August 21st, 2014 in Business » World

Startup Club: Lob

Over the past few decades, a growing number of small businesses involved in various industries have popped up around the world meeting the needs of an ever-growing, ever-changing market.

Jewish businessmen and innovators continue to excel throughout these industries, displaying their prowess as creative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs, and tapping into continuously developing markets with 'startup' companies.

In a bid to recognize these decorated entrepreneurs for their ongoing contributions and advancements to these fields, Shalom Life is pleased to present: Startup Club, highlighting the best and the brightest of Jewish entrepreneurs who continue to provide our community with new, influential and innovative ideas that will forever change the way we interact with the world, and with one another.

Follow our lead and we’ll follow yours – send us tips or suggestions via email, comment below or tweet us @ShalomLife, in our mission to celebrate the most visionary of Jewish entrepreneurs.

Check out last week's inductee into the Club here.

Business: Lob

Base Of Operations: Sunnyvale, California

Entrepreneurs: Leore Avidar and Harry Zhang

Industry: Technology/Printing/Postal Service

Founded: May, 2013

Printing is expensive, especially if you’re a fledgling company looking to produce advertising materials to help get you off the ground. Most corporate printing companies require either a minimum quantity or purchase amount to be made when ordering materials, or at the very least for a long term commitment to be made. Thanks to Lob, however, even the smallest of companies now have access to commercial printing, and mailing, services.

Founded in May of 2013, by University of Michigan graduates Leore Avidar and Harry Zhang, Lob strives to provide top of the line printing services for those looking to print large quantities and those equally seeking to print out individual materials. Before creating Lob, Avidar worked as a technical business developer at Amazon Web Services, while Zhang worked as a product manager at Microsoft. During that time, both men realized just how ineffective the commercial printing industry was for those low on capital, or those looking to produce a low quantity of materials.

In addition to printing everything from postcards to pamphlets, posters to promotional material, Lob also offers mailing applications. Their services, done online, make it quick and easy for someone to print out a hundred postcards, and mail it to a hundred different people without breaking the bank or taking weeks on end to accomplish.

What allows this Y Combinator backed company to produce so many diverse and fast printed materials is their new developer API which integrates both printing and mailing services in one convenient, and affordable, location. As explained by Avidar in an interview with VentureBeat, “We allow people to programmatically generate and send mail. Let’s say you had to send a customized letter to every person in the United States with their individual name on it. Before you would have had to spend 12 months and it would cost millions of dollars to do this. With Lob, I could do it by tomorrow.”

Recently Lob has announced that it plans on expanding its line of printing materials to include t-shirts and photo albums. They’re also considering offering clients the ability to print full books, independently published novels through Lob. However this is a long term goal, and yet to be confirmed. As co-founder Zhang explained to TechCrunch, “When we think of printed products, it’s anything that ink can touch.”

Recently the company raised $2.4 million in seed money to help them improve their services and expand their operating team. They’ve also signed on larger clients, including two Fortune 500 companies, who have begun to test Lob’s services on a smaller scale with the possibility of signing million dollar contracts.

Although the amount of mail sent every year has been decreasing, both founders are confident that their company’s mailing services will remain an asset to the company and a necessity for consumers. As Zhang explained to VentureBeat, “The government, insurance welcome kits, checks, utility bills — paper mail is a legal requirement for a lot of organizations. Printing is here to stay, and we can help bring entire print divisions into the cloud.”

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