‘Tis the season for gift-giving, which is presumably why stealthy U.K. startup SwiftGift — founded back in 2013 — is unwrapping its gifting-made-easy service to launch in beta today, ahead of the holidays.
The startup says it has raised more than £400,000 in angel funding from undisclosed investors to-date. And is apparently in the process of closing an extension to that seed round. The beta currently works for sending gifts within the U.K. only.
The SwiftGift premise is deceptively simple. The service layer acts as the middle man, connecting would be gift givers to recipients without the latter having to share their postal address with the former. Instead you need to know their Facebook account. But hey, Facebook stalking is far easier than IRL stalking, right?
SwiftGift also packs up gifts and sends them off to the recipients who do choose to accept them for you — further reducing gifting ‘hassle’. Gifts that aren’t accepted, or where missives go ignored for seven days, result in the sender being refunded.
SwiftGift users can only send gifts from its own store, with a range of items such as chocolates or gadgets, costing from £5 right up to £20,000 bling.
After you’ve selected a gift and specified who you want to send the goods to, SwiftGift then sends your would-be recipient a Facebook message saying so-and-so wants to send such-and-such and asking for an address to send the goods.
So the idea is a person can use the service to send a gift to someone whose address they don’t know. And can’t ask for. Which, put like that, does make the whole thing sound rather creepy. Unless you’re the sort of person who is happy to be showered with gifts from randoms.
As someone who frequently has to politely decline to share my address with marketing and communications firms so they can’t send me some random branded junk, I could see this service appealing to the PR fraternity as a new channel for pestering journalists. Beyond that niche use-case, the startup’s own marketing video suggests SwiftGift will be useful for guys wanting to impress girls who they don’t know that well by sending them stuff they may not want. Which again risks skewing towards the far right of the ‘thoughtful to creepy’ index.
Here’s what SwiftGift CEO Kirill Chliaifchtein had to say about who the service is useful for, and how SwiftGift stands out from the gift-focused competition:
There are many uses for being able to send to someone who’s postal address you don’t have. From following up a romantic date with flowers to sending gifts to friends. It’s shocking how few postal addresses we actually know, even of our nearest and dearest friends and family! Calling to clarify an address is a hassle, at the very least, and sometimes completely implausible (a lady you don’t know well is unlikely to tell you her exact address for privacy and safety fears). In addition, asking for the address ruins the element of surprise. SwiftGift allows a user to send to anyone, without needing the recipient’s address, while ensuring the recipient’s privacy.
Although, there are many gifting companies, a few even attempting to send without addresses using emails or focus on tackling the corporate gifting space, not one of them has the fundamental vision that we have on resolving the particular issue we are tackling. We are not trying to necessarily “solve” a problem. We are simply trying to make gifting behavior simpler and as such hopefully re-inventing the gifting process entirely.
SwiftGift is basically acting as the trusted courier/go-between, but — being the new kid on the block — it has the not inconsiderable challenge of building trust where there is none. In other words, why should a person share their address with a random company if they’re not comfortable sharing it with a random person?
The answer, says Chliaifchtein, is to build a trusted brand — so that means shelling out on marketing to establish SwiftGift as bona fide gifting brand, not just some more stalkerish Facebook spam. Hence the need for the startup to be raising a rather large amount of early stage cash.
“We are investing heavily in PR, Marketing and Social Media,” he says. “People are much more likely to try a service or accept a gift from a service which they have previously heard about: either from their friend, from a blog they read or from a celebrity’s Instagram page. Building brand awareness is absolutely key as increased awareness negates the problem of being perceived as spam. We also find many people will perform quick research online for things they are unsure of.”
The SwiftGift business model is to take a commission from merchant partners on any gifts sold via its store. This commission comes out of the retail margin so there’s no mark-up visible to users.
“Customers pay retail price for items and standard delivery charges. Our ‘magic’ of reducing effort and of getting addresses, as well as our basic SwiftGift packaging and personalized card are all included free of charge,” he adds.