Irfaan Premji, Founder of Gifty
1. What does Gifty do?
Gifty is a simple way to give something thoughtful such as a coffee or treat. There’s no app to download - you simply send a text message to your friend and they receive an electronic voucher to redeem at a local vendor. Gifty makes people happy.
2. What inspired you to start this? What problem are you solving?
Gifty started off as an experiment, but evolved the way it did because I like to give, and I learned others did, too. Gifty lets you act on a very human desire to be kind, and lets you do it without the friction usually involved when you want to be nice.
3. How long did it take you to go from prototype to launch?
Gifty launched very early, while still just a prototype. Since then, it has evolved substantially as our vendor and user base has grown. We’ve built a platform on which we continue to build innovative products.
4. How did you determine who your audience might be for this product?
We found product-market fit early on and somewhat serendipitously. When our partner vendors announced us to their customers, the customers who loved them most started sending their friends and colleagues Giftys. And because it’s really simple to start using (and there’s no app to download), it continued from there.
5. What are your greatest achievements so far?
Building something that people love.
6. What are your future goals for your company?
Gifty makes people happy and that’s a core tenet of ours while we build additional features on top of the platform. Gifty also started off as a little experiment and we never want to forget those roots; we are constantly innovating. Constantly.
7. How has Startup Calgary helped you?
Startup Calgary’s greatest asset has to be as a connector. There is so much time, effort and resources put toward making sure people are talking to the right people.
8. How can companies make the most of their experience with Startup Calgary and Launch Party?
Talk to everyone. Don’t let people talk your ear off - be careful with your time - but talk to as many people as you can. The most unsuspecting person might have some incredible insights for you.
9. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to take their idea from the back of a napkin to the marketplace?
Test it manually. Don’t ask people if they would use an app to match them up with people - manually match them up with people. I was lucky enough to possess the necessary skills to prototype Gifty quickly, but I just as easily could have given out my phone number, manually responded with a Gifty and provisioned the cafe to verify them (or been there myself to do it!).
10. If you could do one thing differently while building your startup, what would you have done?
11. If you could tell the rest of the world something about Calgary, what would it be?
There’s a lot of innovation going on in our city, and a lot of it dedicated to revitalizing old and tired industries like hiring and recruitment and the oil & gas industry!
Published September 18, 2017