We catch up with the team behind SwiftGift, the world’s first Instant Gift Messenger, to find out more.

SwiftGift is the world’s first Instant Gift Messenger. It allows users to send real gifts to friends and loved ones using just a phone number (no need to know their address). A user chooses any contact from their phone contact list, selects an awesome gift from the SwiftGift store. The Recipient is notified of their gift via sms, and provides a convenient delivery address. SwiftGift sends the gift to the Recipient, and doesn’t share their address with the sender.

The biggest challenge is... Explaining to people how SwiftGift can be useful to them. SwiftGift is a powerful tool and its uses are infinite! People need to identify a scenario where it can help them. Some examples from our users:

Traditional gifting – reinvented
Jane has been invited to a 9pm birthday party tonight. She is at the office all day and as usual will buy her gift last minute, after work. She rushes out to the overcrowded shops, searches frantically for the perfect, waits patiently at the till to pay for it, then she has to go and buy a card… She rushes home to gift wrap the present and fill in the card with some pleasant words… The process takes two hours and she is running late for the birthday party…

With SwiftGift Jane gets home after work, makes a cup of tea and watches a few episodes of Sex And The City. She then gets ready and leaves for the birthday. On her way there, she uses the SwiftGift app on her phone to buy the birthday girl the perfect gift with a few taps. Birthday girl is notified of the gift immediately and gets the pleasure of virtually “unwrapping” it to see what it is. Jane arrives at the party, in time, without stress and the birthday girl is grateful for her gift and for not having to carry 10 bags of gifts home tonight (as Jane’s SwiftGift will arrive to her doorstep tomorrow).

Josh took Sarah out on a date and they had a lovely time. He wanted to be romantic and send her some flowers, but asking for her address and postcode was awkward and premature in their relationship… He opened the SwiftGift app, and with a few taps sent her roses, using just her phone number. She was blown away by the kind gesture and there was no awkwardness or invasion of her privacy. They ended up dating!

John used to work at a bank for a big boss, Tim, 5 years ago. They are “friends” on Facebook and he still has his Tim’s mobile but they haven’t spoken since he resigned. John sees on Facebook that his ex-boss has just moved into a new house. For networking reasons he wants to congratulate Tim to reengage the relationship, but a simple Facebook “like” isn’t enough and he can’t exactly call his old boss after 5 years of silence to ask for his home address (awkward). So John uses SwiftGift to send him a bottle of whiskey. Tim is pleasantly surprised and thankful and they meet for coffee. Long story short: Tim offered John a job to come back to the bank!

These are just three abstract use cases that our users have identified to us. People really get SwiftGift and become loyal fans and users once they identify how it can be useful to them!

The average day is spent... 
We are juggling between three main areas of focus:

Customer acquisition and growth – how do we educate and get the word out about our app and its usefulness. How do we get more people to download and enjoy it?

Improving the app – We have a pipeline of planned improvements and new features including birthday reminders, daily deals, wish lists etc. We are constantly innovating and improving the user experience. We want our users to really love our product. There is no better marketing than exceeding the expectations of customers!

Analytics, learning, and planning – We are constantly analysing. Where can we improve? What new items/categories do our customers want? What is the next step in our development. Which market do we expand to next. Bigger picture stuff.

The team consists of... We are 9 people at present, 5 in the UK office and 4 working full time but remotely from countries as far away as Russia. We believe that the strength of any business is its people so we hire only the most talented and motivated individuals. Because of this we have a very fun, innovative and entrepreneurial office culture.

My favourite quote is… 
An old Russian saying: “Without effort, you can’t even catch a fish in a pond” (meaning that you will never succeed without putting in the effort).

I am where I am today because… Again I would say – effort. Perseverance is key. Doors don’t always open the first time you knock on them. In fact sometimes they are bolted shut with triple locks, sometimes they are false doors and sometimes the door you really want is a secret door, not immediately visible. But most can be identified and opened if tackled in the right manner. So much talk about doors, I am starting to sound like a carpenter…

I am who I am because of…  
The investment that my parents have made in my upbringing and education and the values they have instilled in me: hard work and the desire to succeed. Aside from that I would say my environment has shaped my motivations and thirst for success and innovation. Seeing successful entrepreneurs around me has definitely lit a flame under me that makes me want to follow a similar path.

The best advice I've been given... 
If at first you don’t succeed…

In five years I'd like to be… 
The same age as I am today. If you find a company that can do that – tell me, I will invest.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online… 
Everyone thinks that online is easy – there are no bricks and mortar so it’s like a traditional business minus this hassle right? Wrong. In online you must compensate for the fact that you don’t have a physical presence on a high street (and hence no organic people traffic just wondering into your store). In the real world it’s location location location. In online it’s all about marketing and getting those customers through the virtual door – and doing that on a tight budget requires skill, innovation and out of the box thinking!

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us... In the early days we made some silly mistakes that caused our systems to crash. In general any online service needs to be resilient. There need to be processes in place if things go wrong, and of course the best cure is defence – which means doing lots of QA and testing before any product goes live to reduce as much as possible potential problems.

The most rewarding experience we've had to date... When customers really truly love our product to such an extent that they don’t just use it but actively start promoting it to anyone who will listen. Once people really get SwiftGift they use us almost every week and they become ardent ambassadors of our brand. They tweet and facebook about us, they tell their friends and they share. To know that we have built something that people truly love – feels awesome.

11 December 2015