Yesterday the team behind the parody Amazon dating provided us with post dates. It’s like postmates, but for getting your stuff back from your ex.
Postdates looks like the actual Postmates website – you can choose some type of relationship (“casually dated,” “lived together,” “one night stand,” etc) like it’s some kind of restaurant. Then you can choose from preset items you want to retrieve (concert tickets if you’ve been in a friendship zone, family heirlooms if you’ve been divorced) or add a custom item. Delivery starts at $ 25 in LA and $ 30 in NY, along with an additional $ 3.99 emotional labor fee. Yes, you can actually use this service if you’re in either of these two cities, but Postdates isn’t here to stay – it’s a pop-up business. Or, as Postdates “founder” Ani Acopian puts it: “It’s like watching a Black Mirror episode, but it’s your real life.”
You may remember Elon Musk’s failed comedy start-up / “intergalactic media empire” Thud, which aimed to create immersive digital experiences that blur the lines between what is real and what is fake. Or you may not remember Thud as it failed spectacularly and wasn’t very funny. Postdates came across the satirical gold Elon Musk dreamed of with Thud, only they did it without $ 2 million in funding from one of the richest men in the world.
Biomedarticles spoke to concept artist Ani Acopian, producer Suzy Shinn, and product developer Brian Wagner to find out how legitimate postdates are.
Biomedarticles: Why post dates? How did the idea come about?
Susi Shinn: At the beginning of the quarantine, when everything was falling apart, Ani and I did ScrubHub, like PornHub for washing hands. We raised $ 50,000 for charity.
Ani Acopian: I think we had this creative juice in us that we wanted to find an outlet for.
SS: Then we had the postdates idea and we actually tried to get investors and artists to fund it because we thought … It’s going to cost something, we want to make it real and actually work. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with it because they asked, “What is the rate of return?”
AA: And we said, “Well the return is it’s a mood.”
SS: Nobody wanted anything to do with us financially, so we built it ourselves.
TK: So you can does that actually use?
AA: Yes, we partnered with two local courier companies, Gourmet Runner in LA and Airpals in New York. We wanted to make sure we were working with people who were treating their employees right.
SS: You can make a request and the ex obviously has to agree and say, “Yeah, I have it for you, I’ll put it outside,” and our couriers have post-date bags that we give them. But you can legitimately use it in either city as long as you don’t send a cat, child, alcohol, drugs, or something that won’t fit in a pocket.
AA: We put a lot of time into the workflow to make sure no addresses are shared, everyone agrees to get involved, and we try to keep it contactless so we ask people to put things on their doorknob. You won’t be billed until your ex accepts the order.
TK: You just started yesterday, but have people actually used the service so far?
Brian Wagner: We had some people post a screenshot in response to Ani’s tweet and say, “Oh, Snap, I was actually posted by my ex!”
SS: There are roughly 30 to 40 pending requests, and we’ve received a handful that have been successfully delivered by this morning.
TK: Do you think this could be a viable business?
AA: Not everything has to be a viable business. I would actually be … not surprised, but upset, if this actually became a thing because I don’t think the world needs that much stuff, but I think we’re pretty much there already. All you can do is hold up the mirror.
TK: What do you want to say as satire with postdates?
SS: I think in the tech world, it seems like all of these tech startups are getting an incredible amount of money, spending so much money, and taking themselves so seriously. The three of us could do this with the help of our friends, and we didn’t need $ 13 million in funding or five years. But we stayed up until about 5am and asked ourselves, “Can we hire someone to help us?” But we said, “No, we can’t pay.”
SW: Especially with the rise of the gig economy, we’ve seen some positives and some pretty serious drawbacks, especially during quarantine. It helps people get the things they need, but many workers are also not paid fairly and have no health insurance. So there is now a much more common feeling that a lot of technology is redistributing workers and you only pay to move people. So in a way, we’re like … We’ve redistributed the emotional work here.
TK: There is an emotional labor tax on the site, yes.
SW: It’s a bit funny when we say how far we’re going to actually move workers for money. Will people pay to have someone else handle a situation emotionally?
TK: How did Postdates build on Amazon Dating?
AA: We have now created two parody sites and we wanted to take that to the next level and make it tangible. It’s like watching an episode of Black Mirror, but it’s your real life.
SS: What is the price to pay if you don’t see someone? That happens all the time – my friends will say, “I broke up with my girlfriend, you have to get my things” and I say, “I don’t want to go your stuff.”
AA: But I think we shouldn’t outsource it.
TK: So you don’t think we should outsource it, but you did postdates too.
AA: I think that’s the whole thing …
TK: That’s the joke.
TK: What does it say about the startup culture to develop a product that you think shouldn’t exist?
SS: Startups are so serious, there is no humor in them and they think it will take forever. Well we do the opposite. We’re only going to hold this for a limited time for a few weeks, and then we’re going to take it away. But we’d love to move on to create something where art meets technology and entertainment.
SW: Companies and experiences can just be fun. They don’t have to be a billion dollar idea, they don’t have to be something that will run on Shark Tank. Imagine we enter Shark Tank …