Janhavi Parikh's bid to be second-time lucky with Giftery, an online gifting startup


Janhavi Parikh is an electronics engineer from VJTI, Mumbai, who went on to do an MS in electrical engineering from the University of South California. After some work experience, she decided to go for an MBA from INSEAD before plunging in to the startup world. Her first step here was along with Co-founder Bhavin Badheka in building Aurality, an instant podcast tool. The company saw good response initially and also went on to raise funding from Blume Ventures, Srijan Capital, Google's Rajan Anandan and others.The team demoed at a few conferences around the globe but the growth hit a plateau at a very early stage. They had to discontinue the product in November 2012 after almost a year of operations. The team decided to take a break and rethink their strategy. The co-founders eventually parted ways amicably and Janhavi took on the responsibility to steer the ship at Aurality. The social gifting space is what she zeroed in on and that is how Giftery came into being.

Giftery started out with the idea of social gifting where users can come on the site and send vouchers from their partner brands.Giftery has arrived at a model of open ended 'Giftery vouchers'. These are basically vouchers of a certain amount and the recipient can choose how to use them. The person giving the gift can give recommendations to add a personal touch but the final call lies with the recipient.

Janhavi decided to enter the gifting space because of a personal need. "Every time I've had to send a gift in the past, it's been really difficult to figure out what to give someone. I think vouchers make gifting simple," she says. Over the months, they've also moved towards gifting experiences as it is a lot more personal. "For instance, if a child wants to give something to his or her mother on Mother’s Day we have experiences that can fit the occasion,” says Janhavi.

This is a general trend observed across similar gifting startups like Tushky and Poshvine moving completely towards experiences. Giftery hasn't shared any traction numbers at the moment but Janhavi says that they are growing at a good pace month on month.

Janhavi divides the gifting space into two categories:

1) The impersonal gifting space that includes gifting by corporates for employee benefits etc. and gifting by individuals to friends/family who are not very close. The impersonal gifting space is moving towards vouchers or opened ended vouchers like the Giftery voucher more rapidly because of the ease and simplicity it offers to

the sender and the choices it offers the recipient.

2) The personal gifting takes a lot more effort from the giver's side and is usually for occasions like weddings, baby showers, etc. It is typically for spouses or very close family and friends. This personal gifting space is moving towards more speciality gifting like gifting a custom experience, or gifting high-end luxury products.

There are many other players in this space like Giveter, Giftease, Giftology (that closed down), etc. It is a crowded space but taking a top view, it hasn't picked up as one would have expected. Giveter started out as a pure play gifting startup but has branched out into Roposo which is more in the recommendation area.

Janhavi is optimistic about the space and encouraged by the fact that they've had multiple instances where grandparents are coming online to gift experiences to their children. This is testimony to the growing trend of people getting more comfortable with transacting online.

Giftery is a team of four based out of Mumbai, and is finding ways to leapfrog growth at the moment. They have investors still backing them. Rajan Anandan says, "When you back a good founder, they pivot fast and find ways to build a great business."