January 11, 2017
Punchbowl - Another Consumer Success Story in Boston

Matt Douglas wakes up every morning feeling humbled about the company he constructed.

A co-founder of Punchbowl, the new gold standard in online invitations, Douglas has established the go-to online destination – not just for moms – but for all consumers interested in sending digital greeting cards and invitations.​ Punchbowl Mobile

“What we are is a solution to a problem,” said Douglas, “We live in a mobile-first world, and Punchbowl provides a digital platform that helps people quickly and easily solve the problem of sending party invitations or a greeting card. And we are head and shoulders above anything else out there.” 

Punchbowl has assisted more than 90 million people in sending and receiving online invitations and digital greeting cards. Senders choose from a wide array of designs, including some that feature everyone’s favorite Disney and Sesame Street characters.  

“Our enemy is paper,” said Douglas, who believes digital greeting cards and invitations will become the norm over the next few years.

​“There is this weird thing that happens in mid-to-late December where people still feel this urge to send something through the mail. We can disagree on how long it will take until people won’t feel the need to send paper, but if you look at the digital players in this market, Punchbowl is by far the best digital platform for greeting cards and invitations, and that is what gives us staying power and that’s why our business continues to grow.”

Started in January 2007 as a party planning web service, Punchbowl – originally called MyPunchbowl – introduced digital greeting cards in September 2011. The goal was to offer customers an alternate way to send thoughtful and customizable cards that had the look and feel of a traditional paper greeting card. Since then, Punchbowl’s digital footprint has increased, while gaining some impressive big-name partnerships, too.

One of those exciting – and big-name partners – happened to be Disney. The two companies announced in February 2014 that Punchbowl would become the exclusive provider of digital invitations for Disney Interactive. The deal solidifying the company as the go-to online source for digital birthday invitations for children.  

Said Douglas, “They didn’t just do a pilot with us, they did a three-year deal and that deal is about to be extended. So it’s a multi-year deal, it’s a significant dollar commitment, and Punchbowl – a small company in Framingham, Massachusetts – now has an exclusive partnership with the world’s greatest consumer company.”

Matt Douglas, Punchbowl
Matt Douglas in the lounge at Punchbowl HQ, showing off his autographed photo of Walter from The Muppets -- his favorite Disney character. 

Disney wouldn’t be the only company to sign-on as Punchbowl has created additional partnerships with Nickelodeon, WWE, Hasbro and Sanrio, which helped populate the most comprehensive selection of branded invitations, “The Characters Kids Love.” The collection not only features Mickey and Minnie Mouse, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Muppets, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and wrestlers like John Cena and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Additional offerings include Punchbowl’s Handmade Art Collection, which Douglas described as the “most beautiful online invitations ever made.” Punchbowl also highlights that its platform is “Made for Moms,” with specific features that make it easy for moms to send beautiful, personalized invitations on the go, and offers “Intelligent Invites.” You can send digital invitations with the look and feel of paper from your tablet, phone, or desktop.

The hard work and effort of Douglas, along with his devoted staff, has helped Punchbowl not only gain recognition from various publications like Entrepreneur Magazine, Women’s Health and The Oprah Magazine, but also a few accolades from the MITX Innovation Awards, including the “Best Consumer Tech that Makes Life Easier” in 2011 and “Best User Experience” in 2015.

“I believe in building a company from the ground up with an eye on profitability from day one,” said Douglas. “That may make us seem un-sexy compared to our peers,but you know what’s really sexy? When you see real revenue and real profit come in the door.”

No doubt, Punchbowl has definitely become more mainstream as most of the online invitations and greeting cards I receive are through the company’s service, which is a signal that Douglas’ approach is working and Punchbowl is a major consumer player in the Boston tech scene.

Matt Noonan is a contributor to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter: @MattNoonan11.