Attack of the Clones
Silicon Valley venture capitalists may have chosen the horse they’re betting on in the evite game. This morning, VentureWire reported that New York-based Paperless Post* raised $6 million in “first-round funding,” from RRE Ventures, Ron Conway’s SV Angel, and Tim Draper–making the startup much-better funded than competitors like Punchbowl, which according to FormDs.com raised $1.25 million last December.
Paperless Post was launched here in 2009 by 20-something siblings James and Alexa Hirschfeld. TechCrunch calls it the “anti-Evite” for offering the ability to create sleeker, design-centric personalized invitations. Evite, which was launched in 1998, still has a chunky, clip-art feel to it, whereas Paperless Post’s offerings seem to fit better in these modern times. There’s even an option that seems ready-made for Brooklyn’s nostalgic new artisan-class.
The startup world is rife with clones and copycats, fueled by the ease of opening up shop on the web. You can find ads on Craigslist shopping for scripts to rip off entire sites. But typically it’s the small fry who are aping the success of their larger, more established rivals.
So the folks at New York based Paperless Post were a little taken aback when they saw Postmark, a new offering from Evite, which looked to them like a total clone of their product.
To make their case, Paperless Post laid out for Betabeat the nitty gritty details of the overlap between Postmark and their service. To them, it copied the user experience and design assets, right down to individual cards. Everything had an eerie familiarity, from the pricing scheme to the name.
“We kind of stumbled on it while redesigning our logo,” said Alexa Hirschfeld, who founded the site with her brother James. “We were checking out the competitors and when we got to Evite’s postmark we had one of those moments, it was actually confusing, looking at it and then at our site, realizing we had been cloned.”