Mobile

Open Sesame for a mobile gifting experience that delights from app to doorstep

Steep me. Fill me. Remember me. Those messages greeted me upon opening my blue, tea-themed gift set, which Matt Brezina selected for me using his latest mobile-gifting venture called Sesame.

Brezina is CEO and co-founder of two-year-old Sincerely, makers of Postagram, Ink, and now the just-launched Sesame gifts service for sending perfectly paired and packaged boxes to friends and family members.

Above: Hello, Sesame!

Image Credit: Jennifer Van Grove/VentureBeat

Brezina sent me the “Afternoon Tea” set, which included four types of Zhi tea flavors, a For Life Tea Mug, a three-inch picture frame from Umbra, and a Postagram pop-out photo. The set is just one of 13 different varieties offered exclusively through the stunning Sesame mobile application available today on iPhone and iPad.

Sesame’s sets are priced at $29 or $49 a piece and are created for people who love everything from coffee and cocktails to snow and puppies. Each set includes products curated by tastemakers that are designed to delight. Delight they did.

Above: Afternoon Tea? Yes, please.

Image Credit: Jennifer Van Grove/VentureBeat

Brezina’s non-verbal message, conveyed through my lovely little set’s packaging and presentation, was that Sesame is Facebook Gifts done right. When we chatted about Sesame over the phone yesterday, his words communicated the same thing.

“What we wanted to make Sesame do is be the best experience that you could deliver in a box,” Brezina told me. “What we noticed missing in the market is the presentation of gifts. The biggest violator of what a gift should look like is the new Facebook Gifts. You receive one of those, you get a thing in the mail. It’s delivered in a brown box with packing peanuts and a packing slip crammed in there.”

Brezina can be so brazen, because, and you’ll have to excuse the extra enthusiasm, Sesame surprises in every way possible.

The iOS application is an inviting, photo-centric place to peruse sets and get excited about the goodies you’re about to send to loved ones. Bright pictures, creative text, and a fluid design make the application such a joy to use that I’ve already ordered a set for a close friend.

The satisfying experience extends, as it should, to each gift set, which is delivered in an impossible-to-miss bright, blue box. Open your Sesame box and you’ll find a “Hello” greeting card, a guide to what’s inside, matching gift tags, and products that go together like peanut butter and jelly.

“Ninety precent of the value of giving somebody a gift is the surprise and the presentation,” Brezina said.

“The ‘Snow Day!’ gift set includes snowball makers, an inner tube for going down the hill, and hot chocolate for when you get back inside.

‘Baby Playdate,’ which is good for kids ages one to two, includes a tugboat that’s great for pouring water over their head in the bath, a book, and a little cool, car for the kid to play with.”

Sesame seems to be only lacking in one way: a brand name. Brezina is a B-list Silicon Valley celebrity who has achieved some level of fame and fortune with his first startup, Xobni. With his postcard and greeting card business Sincerely, a two-year-old toddler, Brezina’s drummed up a moderate following of 1.2 million members and 200,000 paying customers. Getting Sesame, an infinitely riskier venture, off the ground isn’t going to be as easy as if Sincerely were, say, a retailer like Walmart. And this isn’t social software; Sesame comes with inventory and overhead nightmares included with each box.

“Problems where you’re willing to get your hands a little bit dirty are problems that scare away a lot of other entrepreneurs and create opportunity for a company,” Brezina said confidently. “We want to take on pains so our customers don’t have to.”

Sesame will get at least two more fresh gift sets before Christmas rolls around. Some sets will stick around for awhile; others will be swapped out to make room for boxes themed around Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and other holidays.

Disclosure: I accepted the Sesame “Afternoon Tea” gift set, valued at $29, in order to review the product for this story.


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.