Our society has progressed in so many ways; the iPhone in your pocket is estimated to have at least 100,000 times the processing power of the Apollo 11 computer that helped astronauts land on the moon 50 years ago. Yet we still wait until the last minute to do our shopping. Gesture is the on-demand mobile gift delivery platform that allows consumers to select gifts from an inventory of pre-selected items that can be delivered in less than 30 minutes. This gifting on-demand solution starts at $20 and helps people gift for a variety of occasions including birthdays, thank you’s, and “just because.” Gesture presently delivers in over 30 cities across the United States such as New York, Miami, Atlanta, and more.
Alleywatch caught up with CEO and Cofounder Ben Labra to find out how Gesture navigated the funding process and its plans to expand to all 50 states and 3-4 international markets.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Investors were a mix between private angel investors and some VC firms such as New Age Capital and LunaCap Ventures. This was considered our seed round bringing us close to $1M in funding.
Gesture is an on-demand mobile gifting application. Our customers send flowers, wine, champagne, and other thoughtful gifts, all starting at $20 with free delivery, and delivered in one hour or less.
What inspired the start of Gesture?
Realizing that flower & gift delivery is very expensive and the delivery process is extremely slow and unreliable, my cofounders Daniel Sosunov, Christian Casteneda, and I created a cheaper and faster option to send thoughtful gifts and be part of that special moment “in real-time”. Using advanced tech & data science, our proprietary logistics technology allows us to deliver faster than any other on-demand and gifting company in the market today.
How is Gesture different?
Gesture has simplified the ordering and buying process. It takes less than 3 minutes to order a Gesture, and we have a gift for every budget. Gone are the days of paying $100 to send a dozen roses to your special someone. We have also implemented a social experience into sending gifts using the very elements we are used to; pictures, special messages, and much more. You can share your experience in the app for others to see. It makes people feel extra special.
What market does Gesture target and how big is it?
Gesture falls into two very popular markets; consumer/corporate gifting and on-demand. Combined they represent an $800B+ in total market opportunity.
What’s your business model?
Gesture does not inventory any products. We source our products from vendor relationships and partners we have in our network. The fixed price paid by the customer allows us to purchase the product and pay our g-runner (courier). We keep what’s left.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
COVID-19 has impacted Gesture very positively. Gesture has now become more than just a mobile gifting application, we are a fully operational logistics company. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have pivoted from our current business model to many new opportunities to ensure that we could be of service to all of our communities and cities that Gesture serves.
In these unfortunate times, we have delivered everything from essential household items, safety essentials, flowers, and even on-demand birthday packages to people who are alone or just want to remain safe and honor social distancing guidelines. We have utilized our technology to remain useful and assist wherever we can. Our customers use Gesture to distantly connect with friends and loved ones and to bring a sense of joy to each other’s day.
What was the funding process like?
Raising during the pre and post-pandemic has been interesting. We had to entertain all different types of investors. We have relationships with traditional VCs, to private high wealth individuals from Dubai.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Uncertainty from every angle. People needed to know why and how their money was going to be used and why Gesture would be a good investment now and into the future.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We had to show the ability to pivot if necessary. Focusing on the fact that we were able to use our logistics software as another avenue to generate business was crucial. Being open to change, but not losing our identity was a challenge. We managed to do so, spinning out new opportunities for us to explore.
We had to show the ability to pivot if necessary. Focusing on the fact that we were able to use our logistics software as another avenue to generate business was crucial.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months? –
We are planning to expand to all 50 states in the US. We also will entertain 3-4 international markets such as Dubai, UK, Mexico, and Canada.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh
injection of capital in the bank?
Do not always listen or trust the advice of others that are not in your shoes. Meaning that at the beginning of the pandemic, I attended at least 2-3 seminars, live presentations, and forums about surviving the next 4-6 months. A lot of the advice was to lay-off / downsize, hoard cash and resources, and ride it out. I made the decision to do the opposite.
I expanded the operations to include departments that could generate revenue the quickest and with the least expensive resources. We also expanded our market offerings from 10 cities to 33+ cities in a matter of weeks versus months. Because of this decision, it helped strengthen our position and made us more intelligent to new opportunities. It was a gamble, and so far it has been paying off.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
The company will continue to expand its current technology to become smarter and faster. We are in the process of acquiring a drone company to start delivering differently, making the experience fun, and providing a cool element.
We are in the process of acquiring a drone company to start delivering differently, making the experience fun, and providing a cool element.
We (Gesture) on the other hand, have already garnered interest from a couple of billion-dollar publicly traded companies. This makes our journey even more interesting as we seek to become the number gifting company in the world.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
I am a big fan of the Tao Group Restaurants. However, if I had to choose one, I would have to go with a tie between Beauty & Essex and Mastro’s Steakhouse.
You are seconds away from signing up for the hottest list in New York Tech! Join the millions and keep up with the stories shaping entrepreneurship. Sign up today