Although Paperless Post co-founder Alexa Hirschfeld was named one of Fast Company’s “Most Influential Women in Tech,” she has “never taken that stuff seriously.” In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s Hey, How’d You Do That? series, the entrepreneur tells how the site got Condoleeza Rice as an early adopter and gives tips on launching a successful startup.

“She came through another gatekeeper, which is pretty much how all of our users come to us,” Hirschfeld said. “The invites went through our closed circle of Harvard friends initially, because we were both really paranoid. We had competitors then, and we were trying to smooth out the process of the workflow. We handed out user names and passwords very carefully back then, and Rice was maybe two or three degrees separated from someone we knew at the school.”

Read more in Hey, How’d You Build Paperless Post Into a Powerhouse, Alexa Hirschfeld? [subscription required]