This NYC Startup is Making Gift Planning Fun Again



Shopping for Mother and Father’s Day gifts are a constant just like anything else and as of now there is no easy way to go about coordinating gifts. You want to split the price or even propose a gift and it turns in to a whole fiasco. Gift Slicer is perfect way to share the joy of giving in a quick stress-free way no matter how you slice it. The mobile app gives you the power to seamlessly split the gift whether it is that airline ticket or a Barnes & Noble gift card. Don’t think of any other gift service and start slicing gifts now!

We spoke with Founder John Keenoy about the business and how it is forever solving the problem of gift sharing.

Tell us about the product or service. 

Gift Slicer is an application that makes it easy for people to share the cost of sending a gift to someone.  Right now we are offering Gift Cards from many name brands from the travel, retail, experience, and dining categories.

How is it different? 

It’s different because there are no goals to set, so as long as at least one person contributes, a gift will be delivered. The campaigns can be, and usually are very short in duration.  This means that you don’t have to plan your gift a month or so in advance, you can start it a day or two before, or a week, or whenever you want.  And shorter campaigns also create a sense of urgency with the people you’ve invited to participate.  Another difference is, as long as at least one person contributes to a campaign, even if only the customer who starts a campaign makes a payment, a gift will be delivered.  Of course, the more people that contribute, the bigger the gift can grow, and that’s the point.   And, it’s free.  There are no fees at all and 100% of all contributions go towards the recipient’s gift.

What market are you attacking and how big is it? 


John Keenoy

We want Gift Slicer to be the first thing you think of when you need to send a gift for any reason and want to share the experience with friends, family or coworkers.  So we’re at the intersection of the Gift Market, the Gift Card Market, and the Group Funding Market, each of which is huge.  There are studies out there that suggest that the US gift card market could reach $140 billion by the end of this year.  And when you consider the gift market, looking at birthdays to start, over 300 million celebrate their birthday in the U.S. every year.  That is nearly one million opportunities every day just for birthdays!  Then there are anniversaries, graduations, births, weddings, engagements, milestones of all type, and just a million reasons to give a gift, and in a very cool way where lots of people can enjoy the feeling of being a part of something.

What is the business model?

Once a customer has installed Gift Slicer, the first step is to select whom the gift is for, why and when.  Then you choose which of our vendor partners’ gift card you would like to give.  You are then prompted to make the first contribution towards the gift card, and finally you are given the opportunity to choose others who you would like to invite to participate in creating a really special gift.  For it to work best, the person starting the campaign should invite as many people as they can. By doing so, more people will contribute (hopefully) and the value of the gift card increases.  We handle the invitations, collection of funds, and delivery of the gift.  Once we’ve established a customer base we’ll be able to use relational data to remind our customer of an upcoming event, suggest a gift, and even generate a list of people that you might want to invite.  So really, we’re also creating a social network.

What inspired the business? 

Mother’s Day 2014.  I was sitting in my apartment getting ready to order flowers for my mom.  Flowers are not cheap, and I wanted to send her something a little nicer that the usual, so I thought it would be great to get my brother and sister to chip in.  I searched for something that would let me share the cost with them, but I really couldn’t find anything specific to what I wanted to do.

According to your data, what types of gifts are most popular among New Yorkers?  Travel is really popular.  One of the reasons is that travel can be expensive, and a lot of people mark milestones in their lives with a trip or vacation.  So Delta, Royal Caribbean, and Hotels.com are very popular.  And when a bunch of your friends each chip in $50 or more, you could end up with a gift card worth several hundred dollars.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months? 

Our six month goal is to have 1,500 monthly active customers (an active customer being someone who actually makes a payment toward a campaign).  There are several other indicators that we are keeping a close eye on that will drive business goals, but we are keeping our focus on creating customers.  We’ve got really big goals and aspirations for Gift Slicer way beyond a convenient way for people to chip in on a gift card.  This is our proof of concept, and when it works the rest will unfold.

What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?

Understand the value of time.  Time is the most valuable, and in the beginning most abundant, resource that you have, even more so than money.  Time should be budgeted and handled carefully because you’re going to spend a lot of it.  Be patient with the process of developing the application itself, it’s going to take a lot of time.  But keep things moving along as quickly as possible, set time-based goals, and don’t lose momentum.  Unless you’re fortunate enough to quit your day job, you’re going to have evenings and weekends to work on your dream, and when you start bringing others on board, you are going to need to not only consider their personal schedules into the mix, but you are going to want to work with people who are willing to put in the hours and can get 100% behind your endeavor, otherwise things will slowly grind to a stop.

If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why? 

Alexis Ohanian of Reddit seems like a really interesting person with a lot of insight into making the world a little easier place to live in.  After all, if a new technology or business doesn’t make people’s lives even just a little bit better, it’s not good.  I would also like to meet David Tisch.  He has had tremendous success with companies in early startup, and in similar or at least related categories, like service and e-commerce.  Really I would like to be put in touch with anyone in the community who reads this that thinks it’s a great idea and they are excited about it.  I like to work with people who get really passionate and share the vision to the point where they start to complete my sentences.

Why did you launch in New York?

I was living in Midtown when I had the idea, which is very fortunate because I knew that I had to get the smartest people I know involved, and I was basically surrounded.  I don’t have a particularly large network, but it is full of really talented people, and a lot of them live in my neighborhood and drink at the same bar, so it was completely natural to start in NYC.

What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?  I’m not really a rooftop bar kind of guy, but my favorite outdoor spot to chill is Pier I on the Hudson River Greenway.

About the author: AlleyWatch

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