For many people, a simple “Happy Birthday” on a friend’s Facebook wall is enough. But a startup called Giftiki is launching a new group gift-giving tool Monday to make a birthdays a bigger deal using Facebook.
The idea behind the company is to allow friends to chip in together to buy a friend a combined gift. Giftiki connects friends on Facebook to have them give a small monetary gift. After more and more friends leave small amounts of money, the birthday boy or girl can use it to buy the one gift they really want.
I should note that gift giving isn’t just for birthdays, users could also leave gifts for weddings, honeymoons, graduations and more.
Users can give anywhere from $1 to $10. Each gift is accompanied by a message and icon, like a birthday cake, cupcake or banana. The gift is posted to the recipient’s Facebook wall, where he or she can open it and be taken to Giftiki to sign up and redeem the gift. The company also has what it calls a Gift-O-Meter (pictured), which shows users the total amount gifted to date.
The service doesn’t let you redeem a gift for actual cash. You can redeem it for an American Express gift card or with online retailers like Amazon, Macy’s, Starbucks or Sports Authority. Giftiki doesn’t charge users or gift recipients but makes its money by buying the redeemable gift cards from the various online retailers at a discount. For example, a $50 gift card you redeem for Amazon only costs Giftiki $40. (This is only an example of the profit Giftiki makes, the company didn’t share actual percentages.)
Giftiki also notes that it has secured a partnership with American Express and its Serve mobile payments process (available soon). As VentureBeat writer Jolie O’Dell noted in previous coverage, Serve combines mobile, online and offline payment features and targets users who rely heavily on their mobile phones, whether they are young, tech-savvy users or users in developing areas, where people are more likely to have a phone than a computer. Serve accounts can be funded from a bank account, from a debit or credit card, or by receiving money from another Serve account.
“Giftiki is pioneering a new space in collaborative commerce that allows a new form of trade to occur,” said investor Tim Draper. “I expect this business to spread like the wind. My friends can expect to see a giftiki from me soon.”
Giftiki isn’t the only one looking to give groups a way to gift together. The space appears to be relatively crowded with sites like eDivvy.com, LetsGift.it, Wrapp and The Gifts Project, which was recently acquired by eBay.
The San Francisco-based company, founded in 2010, recently secured a first round of funding for $1 million led by investor Tim Draper and included GoldHill Capital, Crosslink Capital and Transmedia Capital.