Pelipost Profile

Pelipost logo.

Pelipost makes it easier for families and friends of incarcerated individuals to send printed products.

Founder(s): Joe Calderon, Becky Calderon

Industry: Tech

Founded in: 2016

Location: Tampa, Florida

Interview With Joe Calderon

Describe your product or service & the problem it’s solving:

“We help friends and family stay connected with their incarcerated loved ones through printed products such as photos, greeting cards, photo cards, etc.”

How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!

“Pelipost is a family-run business that was born out of love and personal experiences of mother/son Becky and Joe Calderon, who experienced first-hand what it’s like to have and be an incarcerated loved one.

Joe was in college, Becky’s legal troubles caught up with her, and she received a three year prison term. Becky was sentenced to California’s Central Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, an eight-hour drive away from Joe. Communication was extremely limited, and finding ways to stay in touch was challenging. 

While incarcerated, Becky missed major events, like her son’s graduation, when he got his first job out of school, and when he bought his first car. Becky would ask Joe for photos of his life, but sending photos to prison manually is a complicated, time-consuming process, and he struggled to find the time to send pictures.

“To receive pictures from home was a celebration in the cell,” Becky says. “It didn’t matter who received them, they were always shared with those around you. It’s like saying, ‘See, this is my real life outside of these walls.’”

“One day, I remember thinking to myself ‘I have thousands of pictures on my phone. I wish there was a service that could print and send my photos for me,’” Joe says. “The idea stuck with me and upon my mom’s release, we got down to business and launched a mobile app called Pelipost.”

From this personal experience, Pelipost came to be. Becky and Joe understand what it’s like to be separated from a loved one by incarceration. Their mission is to bring hope to families and their incarcerated loved ones through cherished representations of the love and life on the outside. Today, Pelipost has shipped over 10 million photos and proudly serves over 500,000 customers around the world.”

How are you funded?

“Self-funded.”

Who is your target market?

“[The] Correctional Community.”

What is your primary marketing strategy?

“Social media and word of mouth.”

What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?

“Proving that there was a need for the service, acquiring those first 50 customers, and not listening to the non-believers.”

What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?

“How lonely it can be and how many hats you have to wear to be a successful leader.”

What was your first job and what did it teach you?

“I founded my first business–Goscha Golf–in high school. It was a simple beginning, to say the least, I was assembling golf clubs in my garage and selling them. Within a couple of years, I sold enough golf clubs to hit six figures in sales. Early in my life, my family had some hard financial times, losing the house, etc. I remember the strong urge to help in any way I could. For me, dealing with my family’s financial insecurity is what drove me to work hard and try to build a business. This has shifted over time to wanting to have the largest positive impact I can, working to level the playing field and enhance people’s lives and well-being. Whenever I am not making progress or moving forward, I feel it in my gut. In order for me to feel fulfilled, I have to be focused on this passion.”

What is your #1 piece of advice for startup founders?

“Don’t try to build something that is perfect. Build incrementally with a bigger vision to confirm your decisions. Also never compare your circumstances to someone else’s because you don’t know what path others have been on.”

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