GiftRocket, a Y Combinator-backed startup, is launching this week a service that marries the concept of virtual gift cards with location-based services.
Basically, GiftRocket lets you send money to a friend or relative in a snap, but also see to it that the transaction is effectively made only when the recipient ‘checks in’ to a certain location.
Hence, you could use GiftRocket to send $15 to a friend to sway him or her into checking out the breakfast offering at that coffee place you’ve been raving about, or you can gift your mother a $50 bouquet of flowers but only if she visits that new flower shop a couple of blocks away.
The idea is similar to Venmo’s Gifi – which launched at TechCrunch Disrupt – but far less complicated: with Gifi, the recipient is required to have an iPhone and use both the Venmo and the Foursquare app, while GiftRocket only requires people to click a ‘redeem’ button on a mobile website from any GPS-enabled handset.
Here’s how GiftRocket works: pick any business or location, including restaurants, bars, parks or any office building. Specify the amount you would like to gift, and the recipient’s email address.
All the latter has to do now is show up at the location you’ve specified – this is verified by determining the recipient’s location via GPS – and subsequently open a dedicated link that was sent to him or her in an email.
A few seconds later, the money that was gifted (e.g. $50) goes straight to the recipient’s PayPal account – if the person does not have a PayPal account, one will be auto-created to ensure a relatively smooth user experience.
Of course, the recipient can always opt not to actually use the gifted money to spend it on whatever is on sale at the pre-defined location, but that’s not really the point: it’s part virtual gift card, part place discovery, and generally a novel way to send people a useful gift they’ll remember.
To make money, GiftRocket charges $1 + 5% of the gift amount.
Fun fact: GiftRocket’s ‘redeem’ button was implemented by one of the startup’s co-founders, Jonathan Pines, who implemented the now-ubiquitous Facebook ‘like’ button when he worked at the social networking giant.