If a tiny piñata appears on your doorstep (or in your mailbox), be glad you didn't get a snail. But you are still at risk of someone sending you a brightly colored donkey with the message, "Just because I'm sending you a piñata, don't think I don't hate you." (That actually happened.)
Nathan Butorac, the 25-year-old founder of Piñatagrams.com, thought he had the best idea ever when he bought the domain name mailasnail.com in the middle of the night around New Year's. He believed it would be a witty way to mess with friends and create a terrible pun by using "snail mail" to mail a snail. But interstate trade laws quickly crushed his dreams of mailing mollusks around the country.
Despite his gastropod goals being flushed away like snail slime in the rain, Butorac still didn't give up. He had already moved to Houston from Fort Worth with a startup that he left after a month and a half, so he had nothing to lose.
Continuing his search for prank mail items, he discovered that piñatas can be sent without a box. A few quick Google searches told him that no one else was running an outside-the-box piñata-delivery business. He bought a few domain names and finally went to sleep at 4 a.m.
After a few hours of sleep, he went to a party store, bought a piñata and dropped the first ever Piñatagram off at the post office to be sent to his parents.
"I drove up two days later and literally watched our mailman place the first Piñatagram in our mailbox," Butorac says. "After seeing the excitement on my Mom's face, and that the piñata was not damaged, I knew I had a business on my hands. Seven months later, we have sent thousands of Piñatagrams spreading surprise and joy around the world."
Each Piñatagram is $19.99, can be personalized with six lines of text and is filled with candy.
To market his candy-filled surprises, Butorac pasted 1,000 fliers for a missing piñata over seven days at the music and film festival South by Southwest. His marketing strategy worked, and he has now sent Piñatagrams to all 50 states.