Three years ago, Ben and Nicole Greene were planning their wedding and decided to go digital with registries to save money and materials. But when it came time to give gifts to others, while preferring to go the digital route – as they did with their weddings – they found that digital gifting platforms on the web didn’t quite meet their criterion.
“We saw that there was no platform that we really wanted to use,” Nicole Greene told TechCrunch in an email interview. “In combination, I recognized that there was a gap in the market for a more genuine and authentic way for people to connect and celebrate one another in the digital age.”
So in 2019, Ben and Nicole co-founded Givingly, an online gifting service that lets users customize digital greetings and send gifts to anyone. The company announced today that it raised $10 million in a Series A round led by Seven Seven Six, a VC firm founded by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, with participation from Shopify co-founder and CEO Toby Lutke. Income brings the total of the 13-person, Los Angeles-based company to $13 million.
“We are doubling down on Gigli as they have not only continued to grow organically, but have also thrived – by building kindness and connection – during these uncertain times,” Ohanian told TechCrunch via email. “It is as much a gifting platform as a social network and it has been valuable to all parties: the artists who design the gifts, the brands who are the partners, and ultimately the gift givers and recipients who keep coming back and Keep spreading the word.”
In fact, Nicole sees Givingly as more than your average digital gift marketer. The service offers messaging features, including group chats with family and friends, who can respond with tokens of appreciation to e-cards and e-gifts. Users get reminders for the birthdays of friends and families. And for cards, which can be shared via email, text or social media, customers can choose from designs contributed by independent artists and brand partners like Starbucks, Nike and Target — and in addition to writing text, create their own You can add photos or videos.
In 2020, Givingly launched a partnership with Snap, which brought its gift-giving service inside Snapchat through in-app integration. The company’s current focus is a desktop app, launching soon in early access, which Nicole says will “bring even more features to power gifters.” (Givingly was previously iOS only.)
“People are looking for more accessible and practical options to stay connected and celebrate a special relationship in their lives. They want to share words of love and compassion from afar,” said Nicole. “Givingly Hearts and Gifts Focuses on the spirit of giving, while saving our customers from wasting time on travel, waste and stress.”
Will platforms like Givingly ever replace physical gifting? It seems impossible (see American Greetings). But there are signs that demand for digital gifting solutions is increasing. Inkisive’s June 2022 survey, sponsored by digital gifting vendor GiftNow, found that 67% of consumers prefer instant digital gifts. Allied Market Research estimates that the digital gift card market alone was worth $258.34 billion in 2020.
Gigli makes money by charging users a monthly subscription fee for access to the platform and additional fees for premium cards. Nicole would not comment on revenue, but said “millions” of people have used the service to date.
“The pandemic has accelerated things and we are moving fast,” Nicole said. “We are going to use this latest funding round to create more of that value for all members of our community – from loyal and daily users to our trusted brands and loyal partners, with desirable cards and gifts on the platform. “