A new gifting startup called Aggregift is launching an entirely new way to purchase goods on Amazon. The company, which has been quietly running its beta tests with a few thousand users over the past several months, allows users to initiate crowdfunding campaigns for gifts, which involve posting the call for contributions to the recipient’s Facebook Timeline.
The service is designed to be dead simple to use, too. The campaign’s originator just drops an Amazon product link in Aggregift to get started. And if they don’t know what to get their friend, they can browse through the recommended gifts on the site or work with one of Aggregift’s “gift concierges” via live chat.
Once the gift has been selected, the campaign gets its own page on Aggregift.com with a unique URL that can also be shared via email, Twitter or Facebook, for example. Though the request for contributions doesn’t have to be posted on the friend’s Facebook Timeline, that of course gives the campaign higher visibility among those who might actually be close enough to the recipient to want to participate.
The amount of each individual’s contribution is never revealed to the gift recipient, though givers are awarded badges like “Top Contributor” or other achievements – like being the one to finish the gift. Upon completion, the recipient can claim their gift, or in the case of misguided intentions, they can choose to get an Amazon.com gift card instead.
Aggregift was “officially” co-founded by Greg Schvey with former college classmate Austin Lin back in December 2011, but they didn’t begin working on it full-time until late summer 2012. Neither founders’ background is in gifting or e-commerce – Schvey came from Citigroup and Lin worked on Windows Phone – but they had teamed up together several times over their university years on campus-wide projects.
“People today are more connected than they have ever been. There’s all this communication happening, but we realized that there’s a lack of ways for people to celebrate together,” Schvey explains of why this product made sense to them.
“The gifting space has become a bit crowded,” he admits, “but what we’ve seen is that there’s still a huge gap in the products that are out there and the way people interact with each other.”
He says that Amazon is the first company that Aggregift is working with, but the plan is to expand the service to other retailers in the future. Currently, the business model is that Aggregift charges a 4 percent fee, but that could change later on, as the company gets more retailers involved. Competitors today include gifting apps like Wrapp and Boomerang, where retailers offer free gifts in small denominations (e.g., $5 to spend at Fab.com), in order to jump-start the gifting process. Schvey says that Aggregift won’t work exactly the same way, but declined to go into detail as to future plans.
The service also competes with crowdfunding tools like Crowdtilt, which TechCrunch staff (really awesome people, by the way) have used in the past. However, while Crowdtilt, Kickstarter, Indiegogo and the like focus on raising money for a project or cause, Aggregift takes the next step into actually making a gifting transaction. We should note that, though this space is crowded, none of the gifting startups have gained significant traction yet, which could be because the use cases are too few.
Schvey says that during its early tests, the re-conversion rates were very good – as many as 40 percent of users returned to use Aggregift again. Gifts usually saw six to eight contributors who would donate $11 to $15 each. In the future, the company plans on making its gift recommendations better, including the ability to import wish lists from Amazon, which seems like a necessary next step.
Aggregift has $300,000 in angel backing from undisclosed investors and is currently a team of six based in New York.
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