One of our favorite technology products of the year here at GeekWire is PaperKarma, a mobile application that allows recipients of junk mail to snap a photo of the worthless paper and, in a few simple clicks, unsubscribe from the distributor’s list. When we’ve told people about the app, most folks don’t believe it.
But the app is a real-life junk mail eliminator, and as of this month co-founders Brendan Ribera and Sean Mortazavi tell us that they’ve processed more than one million opt-out requests of junk mail. That’s a lot of eliminated waste, from catalogs to newspaper flyers.
One of the company’s early mantras kind of said it all: “Kill junk mail, save trees.”
And, as it turns out, we’re not the only one who likes PaperKarma. (We chose it as a favorite app of 2012 as part of a feature we wrote for Seattle Magazine this month).
Now, Apple has come out with its list of favorite apps, naming PaperKarma to the prestigious lineup of “disruptive services” alongside well known names such as Airbnb, Uber, Square Wallet, TaskRabbit and Hotel Tonight. Apple also chose its App of the Year, picking Action Motion FX, and Game of the Year, picking Rayman Jungle Run. Full list here.
Mortazavi told us earlier this year that he came up with the idea after speaking to Seattle entrepreneur Hadi Partovi, an adviser to the company and avid junk mail foe. Prior to PaperKarma, Partovi collected names in an Excel spreadsheet of advertisers that sent him junk mail. The former Microsoft and iLike exec would then spend hours calling each company one-by-one asking to be removed from the lists.
“The idea popped into my head that perhaps we could make this process less painful by enabling people to just snap pics of their junk mail and have someone take care of the rest of it,” said Mortazavi, adding that the environmental aspect of the idea really resonated with a lot of people.
Mortazavi tells us that they’ve added more than 85,000 business to its junk mail directory, one of the largest databases of its kind. He said about 20 percent of businesses account for 80 percent of the junk mail they track.
He declined to say how many downloads they have, but added that a new version of the app will have a freemium and viral feature in order to boost those who know about PaperKarma.
So, you soon might be able to tell your friends about all of the junk mail you just eliminated.