What is Penso

Penso is an app project to encourage people to write to each other. With the use of technology, letter exchange can be more accessible, motivating more people to start their first letter. We want to make penpalling more convenient, safe and fun:


The process of penpal searching can be overwhelming. The need to screen through pages of profiles and respond to tons of requests is time consuming. There are times when we simply want to make sure that a potential match is legit, and everything else does not matter too much.

The main feature of Penso is that every user only receives three penpal profiles everyday. This greatly reduces the amount of information you need to process. You simply need to check the three profiles, and decide if you want to connect with them. On the next day, you will get another three new profiles. Think of this as a little daily surprise, having the chance of reading three short stories from penpals around the world!


When people publish a penpal request on a website, they often need to provide their contact details (e.g. email, social media account). People who do not intend to look for penpals may find your profile and contact information online easily.

Since every user will only receive three penpal profiles per day in Penso, the exposure of your profile is greatly reduced. Furthermore, your contact information is not shown in the penpal profile. It will only be sent to a user privately when you approve his/her match.

The Fun

Letter exchange is unique because it is a source of unplanned encounters and happiness. It is a very important element in attracting people to write, so we have added the topic feature in the chatbot to make penpalling more fun. 

There is an item in the profile allowing users to say what they want their penpals to write in the next letter. Every user can set up their own customised penpal topics. For example, I can put down “your favorite local song” as my current topic. Other users will then see it in my profile, and those who are happy to write about it can ping me. This gives me a collection of letters on stories about local songs all over the world!

Writer’s block is common among letter writers. Many people find it hard to think of things to write. The topic feature can act as writing prompts. It also provides a channel for users to be creative and start their own projects/campaigns. For example, using the topic feature, I can tell a story of a friend who is currently struggling through a difficult time. I can call for penpals to write words of encouragement in the next letter. As a result, I will receive a bundle of letters that I can share with my friend to cheer him/her up.

Unexpected happiness is rare in the age of modern social media. Letter exchange is a unique form of communication channel that offers unplanned encounters.

You do not know what you will learn from a letter.

You do not know when you will receive a letter.

A letter can be in any format, written by anyone, from anywhere.

“Definition of Serendipity: The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” – The Oxford English Dictionary