While most crowd-funding campaigns are for creative works and technology-oriented applications, GiftLauncher aims to fulfill users’ wishlist for gifts.
Most of the notable campaigns on crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter are projects that build devices, hardware and applications. On IndieGoGo and other services, you can also find charitable causes that need to raise funding. On both crowd-funding sites, there are also creative works like books, movies and songs, in which the artists aim to distribute and earn from their work, or at least gauge user interest in their creations.
A startup crowd-funding site called GiftLauncher, meanwhile, focuses on raising funds for fulfilling a wishlist. This can either be for yourself or for a friend or loved one. The concept is simple: you create a wishlist and then invite friends to pitch in. The system accepts PayPal and Dragonpay for contributions, and will take a 5 percent commission from the proceeds (which is added to the campaign target). According to GiftLauncher, it will honor campaigns whether or not these are fully funded, unlike most crowd-funding models that only fund projects when these reach the threshold.
The idea for launching a crowd-funding site based on gift-giving stemmed from the founders’ earlier startup, which, in 2013, started as an online service for raising gift money for weddings. According to co-founder and CEO Kenneth Reyes-Lao, the primary goal with GiftLauncher is to get yourself what you really want as a gift, rather than letting your friends second-guess and give you something you may not necessarily need (or want). The startup pivoted to a more generic gift-giving service, because focusing on weddings only can be limiting.
Backers — in this case, gift-givers — can contribute a minimum of PhP 200 (about $ 4.44), and there is no ceiling to the amount of contributions. To date, the platform has about 300 registered users and 140 wishlists.
Curiously, GiftLauncher has also partnered with telco Globe Telecom in crowd-funding for the ecologically-oriented Globe Cordillera Challenge, which aims to “develop environmental solutions and integrate modern sustainable development strategies to promote development in the Cordillera Mountain Region.” Activities include an annual mountain biking event for raising awareness and funds on reforestation. The campaign has raised PhP 360,266 (about $8,005) so far.
According to Lao, online payments are a challenge, especially in the startup’s home country, the Philippines. With an 11 percent credit card penetration, not everyone has easy access to a facility for sending funds online. However, users have warmed up to e-commerce and online transactions. Filipinos have grown “more mature in transacting online because of [daily] deals sites,” he tells Tech in Asia.
GiftLauncher is in the process of partnering with companies like 7-Eleven Connect and Globe GCash for SMS- and convenience store-based payments. Interestingly, money remittance through local pawnshops and through mobile phones has become popular in the country, which means this could be a good alternative to credit- and debit-card based payments.
Additionally, the startup is partnering with retail establishments and brands, in order to add merchandise to the list of crowd-fundable gifts, making it easier to build and fulfill wishlists.