Austin-based Outbox brings physical mail to computers, tablets

Evan Baehr and Will Davis, co-founders of a new Austin-based mail service, Outbox, say they feel that it is time for postal mail to enter the digital age.

Outbox scans and provides digital access to mail on computers and tablets, helping customers organize their mailboxes.

Baehr said he and Davis look at postal mail as falling into of one of three categories: junk mail, mail to keep and mail to deliver. Outbox helps users to unsubscribe from junk mail lists, keep and organize digital copies of mail, and request mail to be delivered to their homes.

"One way to think about the product is to think of it is almost like a mail filter for your postal mail," Baehr said. "We help you take your print mail stream—all the postal mail you were going to get—and we help you divide it into those three categories."

Outbox launched citywide in October; the service costs $4.99 a month. To gain access to a customer's mailbox, the company makes a copy of the user's mailbox key through a process that uses photos of the key.

Mail is collected three days a week and scans of the items are uploaded to the user's Outbox account. The digital mail may be viewed on a computer or tablet.

The company delivers any piece of requested mail twice a week. Items such as packages or mail-order DVDs are delivered to the customer's home that same day. Mail that is discarded by the customer is shredded and recycled.

Baehr and Davis said they wanted to make their service safe, convenient and affordable, adding that they have a customer who was checking his mail from Beijing.

"This entire product is designed to take a person from this very old platform and convert them to a platform that we're creating," Davis said. "So we're doing a lot of the legwork and a lot of the investment, and actually collecting mail, uploading it, scanning it. What that will enable us to do over time is actually convert those paper senders of mail and stop them from printing and posting in the first place."

Both co-owners said they hope the concept will catch on and they will be able to replicate the format in other cities, including New York, Chicago, Dallas and Houston. In the meantime, they said, they are happy to build a solid foundation for their digital mail platform.

"We are inviting Austin to be a part of building something new that is much more convenient and much more environmentally responsible than the current system," Baehr said.

Interested residents can check the availability of the service at www.outboxmail.com. For more information, call 512-222-5420.