Gyft, a new adaptable appliance ablution at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, allows you to buy, save and redeem allowance cards application your adaptable phone. Unlike the abundant adaptable alms applications currently available, Gyft isn’t attempting to carve out a atom for itself in the new “social gifting” market; it’s demography the absolute $100 billion bazaar for concrete allowance cards and affective it to the phone. As co-founder and CEO Vinny Lingham describes it, “we’re absorption accurately on aggravating to be the adaptable allowance agenda capital for consumers.”
“When you go Walgreens or Costco and buy allowance cards off the shelf, that’s the acquaintance we’re aggravating to charm on the phone,” he says. “We’ve got the widest alternative of allowance agenda retailers. And aback you’ve got that big of a selection, you’re able to adapt the allowance agenda alternative by [your friend’s] ‘likes’ on Facebook.” Lingham, the above co-founder and CEO of Clicks2Customers and Yola, co-founded Gyft with COO CJ MacDonald, aforetime of LiveOps, and Luminate. He says he was originally absorbed in accomplishing article in the adaptable payments space, but afterwards affair with MacDonald through a alternate friend, they began discussing architecture a agenda allowance agenda belvedere on mobile. (MacDonald was decidedly interested, accepting aloof gotten affiliated and ambagious up with a surplus of allowance cards.)
The aggregation acutely has a lot of competition, including contempo Facebook accretion Karma, as able-bodied as startups like Giftly, Wrapp, and others. But area these amusing alms applications are focused on creating new annual about alms (Wrapp gives out chargeless cards, for example, and Giftly works about merchants by crediting the recipient’s acclaim agenda afterwards checkout), Gyft is about mobilizing the absolute industry of artificial cards.
The botheration with artificial allowance cards is that they’re generally forgotten, whether larboard at home or aloof not remembered at point-of-sale. Plus, with their accepted agenda counterparts, like those beatific via email, the cards tend to get absent in the inbox and additionally forgotten. And here’s an absorbing factoid — retailers don’t absolutely like that bodies are affairs allowance cards that go unused. Maybe that was the case in the past, but MacDonald tells me that a 2010 law fabricated it so that the retailers can’t absolutely book allowance agenda sales as acquirement until the cards are redeemed. So by befitting the cards managed in the Gyft app, which provides a beheld interface for managing your accumulating of cards, retailers will accept a new approach to admonish allowance agenda holders to use them. These reminders could appear by advance notifications, geo-fenced alerts, or alike incentives like “get 10% off your acquirement aback you use your agenda this week.”
The app itself is attractive, well-designed and seems simple abundant to use, based on the demo. You key in the numbers for the artificial cards in your wallet to add them to Gyft, or you can use the app to accelerate basic cards to friends. Like the artificial cards blind on the arbor at Walgreens, Gyft is alive with absolute annual from its banker partners. It has additionally partnered with processors like Stored Amount Solutions, Giftango and CashStar, which accumulated annual for about 80% of today’s allowance agenda programs. Gyft additionally has to get anniversary retailer’s approval in adjustment to advertise their cards, upload them, analysis balances, and interoperate with the retailers’ backend systems.
There are several nice touches in the app, like the way it can array your Facebook accompany account by altogether or name, and the (patent-pending) way you “scratch” off the band on the aback of a basic allowance agenda to acknowledge the number. To bang off its barrage at Disrupt, Gyft is alms added than $250,000 in chargeless allowance cards from retailers, including Sephora, Amazon, Lowe’s, Brookstone, Toys “R” Us, and more, which will be accustomed out to users aloof for downloading the app, as able-bodied as from retailers who appetite you to advance them on amusing networks (e.g. a Facebook “like”) in barter for a card.
The aggregation is additionally announcement it has bankrupt a “healthy” but undisclosed $1.25 actor annular of funding (update: the founders ahead told me the bulk off the record, but afterwards this afternoon said it could be public) from Google Ventures, Founder Collective, 500 Startups, Romulus Capital and added angels. You can download Gyft on iTunes here.
Judges: Adam D’Angelo (Quora), Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures), David Prager (Revision3), George Zachary (Charles River Ventures).
DP: (Not a question) It’s a acceptable idea.
GZ: What about Passport affiliation in iOS?
A: Apple is not absolutely affairs allowance cards appropriate now, but our API could abutment that.
AL: A few companies accept gone afterwards allowance cards; how are you different?
A: Those are amusing alms companies. We’re activity afterwards the $100 billion plastic allowance agenda market.
AD: Distribution plans?
A: Alive with banker ally – they appetite to drive chump acquisition. They’re announcement on their Facebook walls and sending out emails.
DP: Do allowance cards expire?
A: Merchants don’t absolutely like breakage. Typically, cessation is about bristles years, new law agency money goes to state.
DP: Affairs to accommodate added vouchers (daily deals)?
A: That’s attractive advanced to area we are. We appetite abundance retailers to advance abundance cards aback to your allowance wallet. We appetite to assignment with stored amount cards.
JK: Is there a way to advertise a allowance card?
A: We don’t get complex with that – too abounding risks.
UPDATE 9-12-12, 5:30 PT: While presenting to the board this afternoon during the Battlefield finals, Gyft appear that it will be chip with Apple’s Passbook app in iOS 6. This agency that users will be able to advance cards from its app anon to recipients’ Passbook on their iPhone (as against to SMS or email). An amend to Gyft will be pushed out to Apple in a few days’ time, the aggregation told us via email. According to Lingham, Gyft was not 100% abiding how the Passbook affiliation would assignment until today (when iOS 6 was clearly announced).
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