Making office supplies stylish

February 2, 2011: 5:00 AM ET

Poppin.com wants to do for staplers what Starbucks did for coffee: turn them into something people want, not just need.

By Jessica Shambora, writer-reporter

Do tape dispensers and hole punches need a makeover? According to Ken Seiff, founder of Bluefly.com, and venture capitalist Chris Burch who co-founded Tory Burch with his then-wife and is also behind Voss Water and the Jawbone, the answer is a resounding yes. Hence, Poppin.com, a sort of Apple-meets-Office Depot concept, which launched on an invitation-only basis last Friday with a wider rollout to the general public to follow.

No matter how virtual our world becomes, we still need office supplies. But they don't have to be ugly, says Seiff: "We can redesign the products to make them fun and cool and inspiring." Poppin will sell staplers, pens, and notepads to businesses via the web, but we're not talking about Grandpa's Swingline; the products have all been custom-designed by Seiff's team. The result: supplies with an iPod sensibility (they come in multiple colors to coordinate with your company's brand).

Why office supplies? It's an industry ripe for disruption, says Poppin COO Noah Maffit, who ran e-commerce at Office Depot until 2008. "The industry hasn't changed in any fundamental way in 25 years," he explains. More

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