Three years ago, Ben and Nicole Green were planning their wedding and decided to go digital with registries to save money and materials. But when it comes time to give gifts to others, they prefer to go the digital route – as they did at their wedding – and digital gifting platforms on the web just don’t meet their standards.
“We noticed there wasn’t really a platform we wanted to use,” Nicole Greene told TechCrunch in an email interview. “In combination, I realized there was a gap in the market for a more authentic and authentic way for people to connect and celebrate each other in the digital age.”
So in the year In 2019, Ben and Nicole co-founded Givingli, an online gifting service that allows users to 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 led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Shopify co-founder and CEO Toby Luttke. The proceeds brought the 13-person Los Angeles-based company to a total of $13 million.
“We’re doubling down on Givingly because not only have they grown organically, but they’ve grown — even in these uncertain times — by creating kindness and connection,” Ohanian told TechCrunch in an email. “It’s as much a social network as it is a gifting platform, and it’s been beneficial to all parties: the artists who design the gifts, the brands that partner with them, and ultimately the gift givers and recipients who come back and spread the word.”
Of course, Nicole Givinglin sees it as more than your average digital gift marketplace. The service offers messaging features, including group chats with family and friends, where you can respond to e-cards and e-gifts as tokens of appreciation. Users get birthday reminders for friends and family. And for cards that can be shared via email, text or social media, customers can choose from designs by independent artists and brand partners like Starbucks, Nike and Target – and add their own photos or videos in addition to writing text.
In the year In 2020, Givingly launched a partnership with Snap, bringing its gifting service to Snapchat via in-app integration. The company’s current focus is a desktop application, which will soon launch in Early Access, which Nicholl says will “bring more features to power users.” (Givingly was previously iOS only.)
“People are looking for more accessible and practical options to stay connected and celebrate the special relationship in their lives. They’re looking to share words of love and compassion from afar,” said Nicole. “Givingly focuses on the heart and emotion of gifts while ensuring our customers don’t waste time on travel, waste and stress.”
Will platforms like Givingly replace physical gifts? That seems unlikely (see American Greetings). But there are signs that demand for digital gift solutions is growing. A June 2022 survey from Incisive – sponsored by digital gift provider GiftNow – found that 67% of consumers prefer instant digital gifts. Allied Market Research estimates that the digital gift card market will be worth $258.34 billion by 2020.
Givingli makes money by charging users a monthly subscription fee to access the platform and additional fees for premium cards. Nicol would not comment on revenue, but said “millions” of people have used the service to date.
“The pandemic has sped things up and we’re scrambling to keep up,” Nicole said. “We will use this latest round of funding to create even more value on our platform for all members of our community – from loyal and everyday users to our loyal brand and loyal partners, desirable cards and gifts.”