Carolyn McRae, Founder of The Silver Post
Who are you?
I am a sister, daughter, friend, runner, writer, creator, explorer, believer, and businesswoman.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
I casually explained my idea for The Silver Post over lunch with friends. Two days later, one of those friends, Charles, handed me $5 cash and said, “Have you ever started a business? I just got the first customer.” He loved the idea, explained it to a friend to test consumer interest, the guy said “I need that” and handed him $5 on the spot.
It was time to start.
The idea was actually born a year before I mentioned it to Charles & friends. A lifelong passion for serving elderly got me into many conversations where people would divulge their greatest secrets or struggles with staying connected to their grandparents, great aunts, etc. “I don’t reach out enough. It’s horrible. I feel so guilty about it” was a sentiment I heard countless times.
On the flip side, I saw the joy on an elder’s face anytime someone reached out to say hi. A phone call, photo in the mail, or visit would keep them cheerful for weeks.
How could this be? How could both sides of the story be true? This needs fixing. And I’m gonna do it.
The question became “How can I mobilize families to do more? How can I make it so easy for them, and still so meaningful for elders?” I conducted interviews with people I considered to be potential users, and the idea for The Silver Post was born.
Ever since we started with that first customer, our member count has grown month over month. Charles and I are thrilled at the chance to make a tangible difference in how people connect with elderly they love. And I look forward to doing this until I’m old and grey myself.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
Prototyping. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the perfect way to print our members’ photos and get them to Grandma. I was a stickler for material quality and print resolution; it needed to be great, not just good. We eventually found the solution, and are so happy with it, but I will never forget those days of running (literally) to Staples and Walgreens and CVS and custom print shops in Boston trying to print the perfect postcard.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
It’s a joy to see our service spread through families and watch multiple people send to the same recipient. I imagine how their Grandma must feel on “mail day,” and consider that moment one of the biggest reasons to celebrate our work thus far.
What’s your must read business book?
Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works, by Ash Mauyra.
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
Oprah Winfrey, CEO of Harpo Productions. She reminds me that business and kindness are not mutually exclusive. We can be focused, driven, determined, and still be kind. Lately, I have been listening to YouTube videos of people interviewing her about business while I work.
And can you tell us something weird or interesting about yourself?
At age 2, I kissed an old man in line at the grocery store. My mom said he lit up with a smile. I guess I was born with this soft spot.