There's no question that Facebook is the biggest thing to hit the Internet in the last five years. With that type of hyper-adoption, it was only natural for folks to try to tag along and turn a buck. Unfortunately this usually translated into nuisance social gaming apps from companies like Zynga, who is already planning a secondary offering in order to keep insiders from jumping ship after having gone public a mere three months ago.
So you can imagine my relief when I found a company in New Orleans that leverages the power of Facebook and other social media to a useful and practical end. The company is called Giftmeo and it is launching into the "crowd-gifting" space.
You know how, when you log into Facebook, it shows you which of your friends has a birthday today? It's usually one of the first things you notice. Suppose you felt like giving that person a gift but didn't want to spend more than a couple bucks just to remember them on their birthday? Well, if you and 40 or 50 of his other friends kicked in two buck apiece, that would add up to a pretty nice birthday gift. And that's what Giftmeo is all about.
The concept behind Giftmeo is dead simple, and that's what I love about it. You give your buddy two bucks and so do 49 of his other friends, and now he's got $100 at Giftmeo to redeem for the gift card of his choice. That could mean $100 to spend on, a couple dinners at Chili's, that new band saw he's had his eye on at Home Depot, whatever.
The API is seamless and once you've signed up it's integrated with your Facebook account (and your Twitter account if you choose). It's free to use, and they plan to launch in the next 30 days.
It's not only applicable to gift giving, however. Giftmeo is also a powerful tool for fundraising. People can use it to raise money for everything from charities to the Friday office party.
So how does Giftmeo make any money? Because they're a bulk buyer of the gift cards, they receive a discount from the vendors. So that $100gift card might only cost Giftmeo $90. The gift cards are all transmitted electronically, so there's no shipping costs and no physical inventory.
The company has successfully completed a round of angel funding, so I asked founders Michael Angle and Martin Roth what the plan was going forward.
Gift cards, group gifting and this entire space is very exciting and is just now starting to see changes and companies entering the space.There will be, in our opinion over the next 6+ months, a large influx of companies all taking a swing at their market share with a unique strategy. The company that gets the user experiance correct will emerge from the noise.
Also, we are currently seeking a round of funding to ensure we have the right team in place, a solid marketing budget, and the flexibility to adapt features as we see our user base interact with Giftmeo.
When I asked them how large the potential market was they laughed and said, "How many people have birthdays?"
It's a compelling idea, especially in this era of what I call "peripheral friends". You know, the kind of people that you sort of know and sort of like, but wouldn't go all out and buy a present for? I can also see it being a great way to raise money for office events like happy hours or office birthday parties.
Michael Angle has agreed to answer any questions you guys have in the comments, so fire away.