Ever wished you had a spam filter for snail mail? Me too. Receiving irrelevant and unwanted junkmail is not only irritating, it’s an affront to my environmental sensibilities. And while I do make the occasional effort to contact companies and ask off their catalog list, I’m not particularly diligent at it.
Now there’s a helper. PaperKarma is a new cell phone app that asks you off the junkmail list with a click of your camera. Available for iPhones and Androids, the software recognizes the sender from the photo, attaches your name and sends an electronic request to have you removed from the mailing list.
Admittedly, the software isn’t perfect. It’s not as effective when the addressee isn’t your name, and it can’t do anything about zip-code based mass mailers. But hey, it’s a start. If we can just take a small chunk out of the 100 billion pieces of unwanted junkmail that go to landfills every year we’re doing the environment a favor.
I immediately downloaded the app and tried it on my daily haul from my mailbox. It couldn’t have been simpler or easier. I did, however, feel a small pang of guilt about driving another nail in the coffin of the US Post Office, which is kept alive mainly by junkmail. But overall, it was pretty good karma.
Why we love this innovation: There are other web-based services that do the same thing, but PaperKarma rides the most powerful consumer trend of the past 100 years–convenience. Take a cell phone pic and click to send. This is a powerful but simple lesson for entrepreneurs–if you want to develop a successful innovation, find something that people already want and make it easier.