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Harvard student dilemma sparks multimillion-dollar startup

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August 13
12:11 PM 2013

In 2009, Harvard sophomore James Hirschfield faced a predicament as he planned his upcoming birthday. His party invitation dilemma led to a multimillion dollar startup. Paperless Post, a website that permits users to send invitation through an e-mail, continued to be a success up to this day.

The electronic cards from Paperless Post would range from free to 25 US cents each. Since the company's launch in 2009, Paperless Post has already generated over 90 million cards. Institutional venture capitalists have committed up to US$12 million to the corporation.

Recently, the company added a paper line and teamed up with Crane & Co., Jonathan Adler and Oscar de la Renta. Furthermore, Hirchfield's venture with his sister Alexa will mark another startup milestone, as the company moves to 115 Broadway next month courtesy of US$250,000 grant from the Economic Development Corp. of New York City. The Economic Development Corp aims to encourage original and innovative corporations to move to Lower Manhattan.

"No, I thought I wanted to be a film director and my sister a writer. But I was looking for something to do other than school during my sophomore year at Harvard," Hirchfield said when asked by Bloomberg if he was looking to do a startup. "Being there at that time, not too long after Mark Zuckerberg had left, there was this feeling that you could start a company just like that and it would be a success."

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