GiftCards.com, a Pittsburgh-based company that has been around for more than a decade and has sold 5 million gift cards, agreed to buy San Francisco startup Giftly to grow out a mobile platform.
The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Giftly had raised about $2.8 million from investors including Baseline Ventures, SoftTech VC, Floodgate, Thrive Capital, and Techstars’ David Tisch.
Giftly’s acquisition follows a number of other ones. Karma was picked up very early by Facebook although it may not produce meaningful revenue for some time for the social network, according to its earnings results earlier this year. Another gifting startup, Giftiki, which pooled together people’s money to get gifts, was acquired by Launchrock.
Giftly built a platform that avoided the hassle of individually dealing with merchants and point-of-sale systems. They came out with a native mobile app last fall that made it easier to send presents to friends and family.
The company’s platform didn’t put any limitations on what kinds of presents you could send because the company had a web of relationships with banks and credit card processors. When a recipient would go to redeem their gift, they would pay out of their own pocket, but Giftly would reimburse them that amount through their credit card.
GiftCards.com said Giftly will be rolled into their operations, but will maintain offices in San Francisco.
“We will continue to build out Giftly,” said Giftly’s CEO Timothy Bentley. “Our backend infrastructure will be used for their next generation products. We’ll continue to expand
the ways our technology and services are available to developers, through our API, and merchants, through our merchant services.”
The company is also looking to raise a first venture round, even though it’s been around for more than 10 years. That round will go toward completing the acquisition of Giftly. GiftCards.com has been around since 1999; they sell personalized, pre-designed and discount gift cards.
In the big new world of business intelligence, RJMetrics has found a market helping ecommerce companies easily analyze operations data and make smarter decisions as a result. Big startups have signed on, including Fab, Bonobos, Threadless and thousands of smaller businesses. Today, the momentum has landed the Philadelphia enterprise startup a $6.5 million first venture round led by Trinity Ventures.
SaaS BI, as online business analysis software is called within the industry, is full of competitors. Tableau Software, which is planning to IPO, along with GoodData, Domo and others, have been successfully selling to big companies who need complex integrations to best analyze their own data. On the low end, Datahero and Chartio provide quick and inexpensive ways for a small business to get some quality integrations.
RJMetrics has focused on what ecommerce companies need, Moore explains, although he notes that its clients range from online gaming companies to nonprofits. The secret isn’t some magical new type of BI software, but a better focus on lucrative online transactions businesses. If an online retailer wants to analyze how colors of different types of hats are selling against each other, for example, a non-technical sales analyst at the company could go into RJMetrics and quickly create a visual explaining what’s happening.
The company promises to replicate client data to hosted, secure servers and optimize it for analysis within seven days, versus the months required for more complex products, with a set of APIs developed around systems that ecommerce companies are already using. Then it makes a dashboard of data visuals available to the company, including key stats for transaction businesses, like customer lifetime value, repeat purchase probability, and cohort analysis on database segments. This lets a company answer questions like which types of customers are likely to regularly buy red fedora hats. For clients with technical staffers, it provides access for them to run their own queries on more complex data sets hosted on its own servers. Prices for the basic version of the online service start at $500 per month.
Fab cofounder Jason Goldberg has written effusively about his experience with RJMetrics, and how its analysis helped him prove Fab’s worth to investors when it raised $40 million in 2011.
From a fundraising standpoint, providing access to the RJ data basically said to the VC’s, “here we are, here’s the data, we’ve got nothing to hide, take a look and decide for yourself if you want to pursue investing in Fab.” Effectively, we turned the pitching on its head. Since the RJ data updates several times per day directly from our database, it was many times more powerful than providing powerpoints and excel spreadsheets. This was the real stuff, auto-updating! And, since RJ enables all the data to be downloaded into excel, the analysts at the VC firms were able to do all of their own analysis on the front end of the investment process.
The core RJMetrics product grew out of Moore’s own data analysis work (which has separately resulted in some great guest posts for TechCrunch, like this formative 2009 analysis of Twitter user behavior). The new funding round, which includes participation from existing investor SoftTech VC, will go towards sales and marketing. With the overall growth in the Saas BI industry, Moore says it’s time to focus on the ecommerce part of it.
The health care market is receiving increasing attention from entrepreneurs around the world looking to improve a complex field. Modern medicine continues to face budget deficits and inferior technology in both developed and developing nations. Health care IT (Internet technology) has taken off in the last few years. Also active is the field of ecommerce — across all sorts of niches, including health care.
eCommerce Within the Ayurveda Health Care Niche
Nirogam, an Ayurvedic product e-retailer, finds itself competing in an already booming natural health market. Nirogam Founder, Puneet Aggarwal, was born into the merchant class in his native India. His father was an entrepreneur running a metal fabrication factory. After his graduation in 1998, Puneet followed his father’s lead and started a business. This first venture, Ivycomm Systems, addressed a growing need for online presence as India began to adopt the Internet.
Puneet’s work introduced him to research scientist Dr. Pushpa Khanna, who had recently discovered an insulin-like substance in plant form. As her new website gained traction, Dr. Khanna developed an oral tablet of the substance known as Gourdin. She then asked for Puneet’s assistance in selling it online. His initial outreach to those who had shown past interest was immediately successful. Taking a cue from their first product, by 2002 the two had expanded their offering to 10 herbal products.
This shift toward all natural health solutions is based on an ancient Indian system known as Ayurveda, a system of alternative medicine emphasizing natural methods of healing and good nutrition.
There is a strong bias within U.S. and U.K. regulatory authorities favoring conventional pharmaceuticals over holistic medicine. This strongly affects sales and addressable market, despite the growing popularity of Ayurveda in the Western world, especially in places like California. In India, of course, Ayurveda is a known and highly respected science with a large number of existing brands offering products across various categories.
Nirogam is intended to educate patients regarding alternatives to modern drugs, and to provide a resource for those seeking a holistic option. In addition to natural wellness products, Nirogam offers herbal supplements, organic foods and natural cosmetics. The site is designed as a discovery platform, unlike the marketplaces of close competitors HealthKart, NaturalMantra and Satvikshop. This model captures a wider audience.
As many potential buyers are unfamiliar with the solutions offered, Nirogam offers an informative guide based on known symptoms. Nirogam also has an active social media presence and provides a forum for relevant medical discussion on their company blog.
It’s a Family Affair
The business is a family affair, and Puneet often seeks business advice from his mentor and father Satish. In turn, Satish must be proud of his son. Nirogam’s annual revenues are nearing half a million dollars, with a monthly growth rate of 15 percent.
Puneet plans to expand to additional niche markets in health care. New websites will follow the current model, providing comprehensive diagnostic information as well as a community and commerce.
Back in 2007, I published my formula for web 3.0 — an integrated user experience that is context-specific and brings content, commerce and community together, alongside vertical search and personalization. Nirogam has brought together, in the context of Ayurvedic medicine, most of those elements.
In the future, personalized diagnosis may be a service to add to the roster. Conceivably, somewhere down the line, you could be dialing into a video-conference with an Ayurveda doctor in Kerala to get a personalized consultation for that pain in your upper back. If you are interested in exploring the ancient science of Ayurvedic medicine, Nirogam is worth a look.
Ayurveda Photo via Shutterstock
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