Featured Startup Pitch: Generosity as currency: Gifteng’s marketplace encourages users to reduce consumption and reuse by gifting items
Elevator Pitch: One gift at a time, we’re promoting swapping over shopping.
Gifteng is an online marketplace where everything is free. Users earn four requests for each gift they give through a points system called a ‘Generosity Score,’ and it takes less than a minute to post a gift by using any smartphone.
New gifts become available for request at Noon EST, and users can share them via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Up to three members in the Gifteng community can send requests, and the giver selects the recipient. Pickup can be coordinated by private messaging, or the receiver can pre-pay for the shipping.
By developing Gifteng, our goal was to advance today’s sharing economy by creating something people could use to get rid of stuff they don’t want and acquire stuff they need in an easy, controlled, and social way. Treehugger called us “the Pinterest of the gift economy.” That’s a comparison we’re extremely pleased with.
While de-cluttering one spring, I realized it was difficult to have a meaningful social experience while giving things away. Craigslist and the Salvation Army are great, but it is tough to really connect with recipients while using them. I wanted to know who my donations were going to. I wanted to feel the karma.
Around this time, other companies that use technology to maximize resources and minimize consumption, like Uber, Airbnb, and Lyft, began to catch on. While those companies don’t ‘share,’ per se, they make great technology that gives consumers more choices. This was when we sharpened the idea and began turning it into a functional site.
We put a lot of thought behind how to make the platform parallel—a true gifting experience. We decided against a credit or points system, and in favor of a generosity score. We built Gifteng so that, if a user is friendly and active, their activity will be beneficial, even if they’re gifting an old book and requesting a Kindle. Your money is no good on Gifteng. Generosity is the currency.
To promote the platform, we’ve been doing grassroots marketing and we also retained a media consulting firm to help with messaging and to earn media exposure.
Since the platform integrates users’ social networks, a large part of our growth has been organic, through that network effect.
Today’s technology—especially mobile hardware and software—makes the traditional gifting model obsolete. The economy is still pretty bad for many folks, and culturally there’s been a backlash against consumption.
People like to share. We think users will share goods like they share content if given the opportunity to easily do so. We see great demand for technology that helps people consume less.
How We Differentiate From the Competition
A couple other platforms have a similar objective. But each one is only as good as its user base is active. Our interface is simple and easy-to-use, and we think that will drive active use upward. It’s just really tough to create something that’s really simple.
We can earn a small spread on the shipping fees that users pay, and we’re incorporating a sponsorship model into the Gifteng experience.
Right now, we’re pursuing our first round of funding.
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Headquarters: New York City
Year Founded: 2013