“Virtual Is the New Reality”: An Interview with iPostal1’s Barry Gesserman

“Virtual is the new reality,” is Barry Gesserman’s take on COVID-19 and its implications for the coworking industry. Gesserman is the CMO of iPostal1, a virtual mail provider and corporate sponsor of the Global Workspace Association Virtual Conference. The company operates with 900 partner locations worldwide.

“It just makes so much sense,” Gesserman said of virtual mail options. “I manage so much of my life via an app today…Why do I have to wait until I’m physically at the workspace to access my mail? Or why do I have to make a telephone call or send an email to find out what’s in my mail?”

For iPostal1, the answer is simple: clients shouldn’t have to wait, and they definitely shouldn’t have to go to a physical location to be able to have a business address there or manage their mail. That answer has only become more salient in recent months.

In addition to listing their address on iPostal1, coworking operators can use the same technology platform to offer digital mailbox services to their existing members.  iPostal1 will host a learning lounge session on June 3 at 6:30 p.m., where attendees can learn more about how their partner programs generate new recurring revenue streams.

Virtual Office Memberships Spike

Gesserman said they’ve seen a massive spike in interest from coworking owners and operators wanting to offer virtual mail services through their space, but Gesserman says the interest on the client-side has been even more staggering, with new subscriptions doubling in the month of May.

While the speed of this shift toward virtual solutions is shocking everyone, Gesserman said he and others in the virtual office industry have been predicting this shift for years.

“The world is going through an accelerated experience of adopting technology that is impacting behaviors, and what we thought might take five years is taking three months,” he explained.

Gesserman said he’s been encouraging coworking spaces to offer virtual mail services since well before the pandemic, however, because it offers a new revenue stream that can be up and running within a few days, with virtually no investment. Now, with social distancing measures causing shutdowns and economic crisis, Gesserman said virtual mail is also providing a vital new recurring revenue stream—and offering affordable options for clients looking to keep a business address during ever-changing conditions.

Virtual mail options are, Gesserman said, quickly becoming an industry expectation. Clients want options to be able to have a business address and manage their mail quickly and conveniently—and iPostal1 has perfected just such a set of solutions.

“Mail has been handled the same way for decades, and it’s really due for an upgrade,” Gesserman said. “Those who offer (virtual mail) sooner are going to have an advantage.”

That advantage comes with substantial financial benefits for partners. Last year, iPostal1 sent over $4 million to its 900 partners—their portion of the revenue share from virtual mail subscriptions and from revenue for performing additional services, such as forwarding mail or scanning mail content. This year, Gesserman said the company is on track for $7 million.

Scalable Revenue Streams

“There’s no reason why any workspace couldn’t have 500 to 1000 virtual clients generating $200,000 to $400,000 in revenue every year,” Gesserman said. The low volume of mail clients actually receive makes the workload for offering virtual mail solutions minimal.

“The impact for the workspace is very positive because as you get more and more clients, the business just scales,” he said.

iPostal1 also offers options to build out the business by adding a phone and fax plan. He explained that iPostal1 handles the logistics of those services, providing phone forwarding and digital mailbox messaging, while the coworking space partner can mark up costs on the phone number.

“We see our mission to be the marketing and technology partner for workspaces, whether the solo operators or part of larger organizations, so that they can generate more revenue and offer their members a superior mail management experience,” Gesserman said.

Why Clients Want Virtual Mail

With everyone working from home anyway, it would be easy to assume clients won’t want to pay for a virtual mailbox—an assumption Gesserman said couldn’t be farther from the truth. Rather, both clients with existing coworking memberships and clients who are new to virtual mail and have no ties to the coworking industry have been flocking to iPostal1’s services.

The company offers a key benefit for the customer: the ability to have a business address that they can use to register their business—something they can’t do with a personal address and likely wouldn’t want to do anyway due to privacy and other logistical concerns. In addition to addressing that immediate concern, iPostal1’s customer-facing website and app offer a range of options to easily manage mail from a distance—something that’s becoming more of a concern as COVID-19 unfolds.

Offering Virtual Mail: Becoming a Partner

The benefits to workspace partners are just as substantial. Coworking spaces can be listed on iPostal1’s website within a few days, with a locations page dedicated to workspace addresses, including photos. Clients searching for a virtual mailbox can search iPostal1’s site by address and easily find the coworking space, whether they want one close to where they live or in another city or state. And coworking spaces can use virtual mail plans as a way of retaining clients; they can offer a virtual mail plan to clients who would otherwise be leaving the space entirely, saving the client the hassle of changing business address registration while also keeping the client/coworking space relationship going.

Partnerships, Gesserman explained, offer two main revenue streams for spaces: First, what the virtual member pays monthly for service. This payment is done via a revenue share between iPostal1 and the coworking space partner. Second, the coworking space charge fees for optional services, including contents scanning, mail forwarding, shredding mail, depositing a check, etc. Their partner-facing technology gives an easy to follow list of mail-processing tasks every day—and it’s not a long list.

Gesserman said that across all customers, a given location will receive 3.5 mail items per customer per month and less than one task request per customer per month.

“So what that all means is that per hundred customers, it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to sort the mail on most days, and maybe twenty minutes to perform the tasks requested per hundred customers,” he explained.

In addition to having a low workload, the program carries almost no overhead. iPostal1 handles marketing and manages all payments, meaning coworking spaces don’t have to invest in trying to find clients or handle payment logistics. iPostal1 provides an easy to use backend program that makes managing mail easy for partners, and they provide one-on-one virtual training and support as needed.

“Operators are looking to plug revenue shortfalls right now. We can help,” Gesserman said.

iPostal1 will also be hosting a Learning Lounge session on June 3 at 6:30 p.m EST/ 10:30 p.m. GMT during GWA’s free virtual conference. During the live session, attendees can learn more about virtual mail options.  To attend the session, register for the free GWA Virtual Conference. You can also contact iPostal1 through their website.


Related Posts
Back to top