Mobile Gifting Startup Sincerely Launches Sesame, An App For Sending Themed Gift Boxes From Your Phone

Sincerely, the company known for its mobile photo postcard and greeting card apps, is today expanding upon its vision to become a full-on mobile gifting service with the launch of its latest application, Sesame. The new app allows users to browse, select and send themed gift boxes from their mobile phone.

The boxes include hand-picked, unique items centered around a general theme like “Cocktail Hour,” “Game Night,” “Baby Playdate,” “Puppy Picks,” and more, offering a range of items for both men and women as well as adults and children. As of today’s debut, there are just over a dozen of these boxes to choose from at price points of $29 or $49. However, Sincerely founder Matt Brezina tells me that the company plans to add new boxes every month. He doesn’t expect to ever have more than 20 or 30 available at a time, though – that would be too much to easily browse through on mobile. The company may also experiment with different price points, possibly adding boxes as low as $19 or as high as $99, he adds.

Brezina says that Sincerely has always thought of itself as a mobile gifting company. “This is something we’ve planned on doing since we started the company. Our mission at Sincerely is to help the world be more thoughtful,” he explains, “and we’re doing that by building the world’s largest gifting network.”

Although there are several app makers offering ways to send gifts, generally cards, via mobile phones (SnailMailMyEmailPostfulRed Stamp, Postcard on the Run, and Postcardly come to mind), Sincerely introduced a feature in April which showcased its grander vision of becoming a network, as opposed to just an app. The company is helping users build up a database of friends and family members’ postal addresses – in a digital age where letter writing has become passé, such a thing is a critical step in making mobile gifting a reality. While initially, the app fills its contacts list from those saved on your device, it also uses Facebook integration and other tools to discover the addresses’ you don’t have saved. For example, Sincerely will send an email to another user asking for their address (in a very nice, non-spammy way) while your gift is on hold. After the user responds, the gift ships. That same “Sincerely Magic,” as it’s called, is built into the new Sesame app, too.

Having received a sample box prior to this review, I can confirm that it’s a step up from the brown box gifts that arrive from Amazon and other e-retailers. Sesame’s gift boxes are blue and white, filled not with peanuts, but decorative “straw,” which serves both to protect gifts during shipment as well as offer a better “unboxing” experience. The entire gift set is wrapped in tissue paper with a personalized note tucked in and items inside are tagged with clever messages like “light me” (for a candle), “taste me” (for some chocolates), etc. Another card details each item inside the box, as well.

Launch partners for the app include subscription-based commerce service Citrus Lane, which specializes in boxes of baby products, and San Francisco-based food blog, who helped Sincerely curate some of the available boxes in exchange for the provided exposure (but not a slice of the revenue).

But what chance does a mobile gifting company have today, not only in the face of giants like Amazon, but also with the more recent debut of Facebook Gifts? “I basically see Facebook as the Amazon of gifting,” says Brezina. “They’re going to have a larger selection than we have, but basically it’s about sending a product to somebody and it shows up in a brown box with a crumpled packing slip and an unpersonalized card. And you also knew what you were going to get because they tell you about it,” he adds. “The thing is, most people you send gifts to can afford what you’re sending them and don’t always need it. Eight to ninety percent of sending a gift to someone…is the experience of the surprise and the unwrapping.”

Another reason Sincerely might not be worried about Facebook’s move into gifts? The company is already a Facebook partner, powering Facebook’s “Mail a Postcard” feature in testing. That leaves wiggle room for a future partnership with Facebook on gifts, as well, if Facebook became interested. “Sesame gifts could potentially be a type of gift for somebody to send on Facebook, but I haven’t seen an opportunity to do that yet,” says Brezina.

Today, Sincerely has 1.2 million users across all its applications, which combined have been downloaded 5 million times, and the company has shipped products to 800,000 unique households.

With sign-ups first announced earlier this month, today the new Sesame app has gone live. Gifts and delivery are supported in the U.S. only with rush (2-day) and standard (5-7) shipping options available.