Paper Hearts

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In my Service Design class (under the Human-Computer Interaction Institute), the class was given an assignment to form teams and create a start-up business with a starting MVP pitch that solves a focused issue. In the end, my team and I created a thorough sales pitch and won third place for the highest funded investor pitch.

Our startup business is a product that came out of researching and finding a middle ground for digital and analog note taking, which takes the benefits of both to create a website experience where you can send personalized handwritten thank you cards in a mass manner to wedding guests.

Role: Designer, Researcher, Video, Technologist, Print

Tools: Illustrator, After Effects, Unity and Vuforia, Digital Print

Collaborators: Frank Teng, Gierad Laput, Xi Zhang, Selena Zhen

Process Book


Paper Hearts, our startup, is a one-stop digital service for tracking and sending, writing, and personalizing wedding thank you cards.

We wanted to find the best way to personalize gratitude, without the hassle of hand writing hundreds of thank you you cards.

By incorporating data sources that couples already use, like their wedding registry and guest lists, Paper Hearts offers a unique level of personalization and convenience.

Design Process

Throughout the project, we cared about two questions: 1) Are we serving a segment of the population that desperately needs this product? And 2) Will they pay for it?

We checked these questions whenever we wanted to pivot or iterate. We conducted several rounds of iterations to find users, understand their needs, research the market, and find a compelling business opportunity.

Initial Exploration

We were first mesmerized by the recent trend on bullet journals (or “bujos”). These were notebooks with grid-like dotted templates, providing “structure” but without the confines of a traditional planner.


(PIc) BuJo users are extremely invested in their craft. They make custom “modules” honed towards a particular metric, such as To Dos, exercise logs, or food journaling. The process is tedious, entirely done by hand.

We researched and conducted interviews on why people would tediously personalize their own bullet journals rather than use digital tools. After coming up with research on the benefits of both analog and digital tools, we sought out to create a product that would marry the digital and physical realm of writing and personalizing notes.

  • Interviews

  • Venn diagram of physical and handwritten

  • Main points

Initial Idea: Order Your Own BuJos

Can we insert digitization into the BuJo process? Can we build a service for creating physical BuJo notebooks with user-selected modules, eliminating the need for tediously creating modules by hand?

To answer these questions, we conducted interview with a couple of people. In the end, we found that there is no desperate need for a product. BuJo users find the process rewarding in itself. Non BuJo users don't want a notebook

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Market analysis

We also researched the personalized notebook market to see if the field is promising. Here is what we learned:

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First Pivot // Find a narrower scope

Gratitude Journals

We pivoted to a narrower idea, this time focusing on the concept of ad hoc gratitude.

Studies have shown that engaging an “attitude of gratitude” such as committing to a gratitude journal creates positive effects on ones mental health.

Can we build a service that encourages people to be more grateful towards others?

[How can we make people become more grateful towards others?]

We found multiple avenues where “gratitude” is physically expressed. For example, thank you cards and retail gift cards are particularly common. Can we create a service that caters to users often engaged in thanking others?

New Idea: Gratitude Notebook

Can we build a physical book with thank you cards and gift cards that users bring with them on the go? Instead of going to CVS or Walmart to buy thank you cards, users simply “tear” one from the gratitude notebook.

[A notebook with thank you cards and gift cards, offering convenience and promoting ad hoc gratitude]

Target Audience: Mothers

We also narrowed down our user to mothers, noting how they are often engaged in many social activities that require them to send out thank you cards (e.g., birthdays, teacher appreciation Days, etc.) They are also the center of many daily events.

We then interviewed mothers to find out more about our target audience and their problems.

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Market analysis

We also researched the market of greeting cards to see if there is a potential to grow in the field.

Final Pivot - targeting 'Desperate Users'

Wedding Thank You Cards

We pivoted to an even narrower scope, finally focusing on wedding thank you cards.

Major Pain Point: Couples receive lots of gifts, and it is proper etiquette to send personalized thank you cards. But it is difficult and time consuming to track wedding gifts and personalize each card.

Can we build a service that addresses the problem?

Target Audience: Wedding Couples

Etiquette: Personalized cards to every wedding attendee, within two months post-wedding.

Pain Points: Tedious to write every card. Digital solutions are impersonal. Difficult to keep track of gifts.

We then interviewed wedding couples to gain more insight on their problem.

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We then researched the wedding market to see if this real problem could be something we could tackle.

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Final Idea: Paper Hearts

A digital service for tracking and sending, writing, and personalizing wedding thank you cards.

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How Does it Work?

1. Couples import existing data sources, such as their wedding registry. Our tracks names, received gifts and addresses.

2. We can use Hand Writing detection to search matching handwritten fonts.

3.Users can then create templates and “fields” that they want to customize. That’s it! We take care of shipping and delivery.

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Hours, not months

Paper Hearts offers a unique level of personalization and convenience. Instead of taking months, the task can be completed in a single afternoon, without extra costs.

Total material cost per card = $0.57
Base price point per card = $3.00
$300 for 100 Cards. Same as traditional methods. 81% profit margin


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High-Fidelity Prototypes

Physical Cards

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Augmented Reality

Product Roadmap

Invest in technology and user experience.

Expand to other related fields: Baby showers, Bar mitzvah, college admissions, etc.

Integrate other features:
Gift card integration, AR integration, plotter- based handwriting automation.

We can expand beyond wedding couples, and target other events such as baby showers and college admissions.