ParcelGenie - digital gifts - wireless startups - Fierce 15 2012
Where it's based: London, with an office opening soon in Silicon Valley
When it was founded: 2009
Why it's Fierce: John Taylor, ParcelGenie's CEO, said the idea for the company came from the digital gifts that users were sending each other in Facebook. More specifically, it was the unsatisfying nature of the gifts.
"What we felt was lacking was any sense of real fulfillment," he said. "After the 15th virtual beer on Facebook, you just want a real beer."
Enter ParcelGenie, which brings real-world gifts into the digital age. The company's service is relatively straightforward: Users who wish to send a friend or colleague an inexpensive, just-thinking-of-you gift can browse the catalogue of gifts on ParcelGenie's app and select the one they want to send. The app then sends a text message to the intended recipient telling them they have a gift and asking for their mailing address. Once the recipient responds with their mailing address (Taylor said 99.4 percent of recipients provide their mailing address). ParcelGenie then wraps the gift, packages it and mails it with a note from the sender.
Thus, the service allows users to easily send inexpensive gifts ($5-$8 in most cases) to potential business clients, long-lost friends or significant others armed only with a few dollars and the recipient's mobile phone number--no lengthy trip to the post office required.
Taylor said ParcelGenie is able to fulfill some of the gift orders itself (it owns its own warehouse for such activities) but he said the company primarily partners with third-party fulfillment companies to actually handle the gift packing and mailing process (he declined to name the partners).
What's next: ParcelGenie initially launched in Europe thanks to an angel funding round it scored in April 2009. The company earlier this year closed an additional "reasonably significant [funding] round," though Taylor declined to provide specifics.
And now ParcelGenie is gearing up for a major international expansion (35-40 countries total) with the United States as its main focus. The company expects to open an office in Silicon Valley in the coming months, and plans to have at least half a dozen of its roughly 25 employees based in the Valley office. Taylor said the company would head to the U.S. market via its own app as well as through potential retail partnerships.
To fund its expansion, Taylor said ParcelGenie is currently planning another round of venture capital fundraising for later this year in the range of around $10 million. And Taylor expects to reach that fundraising goal based on the company's successes so far; he said that ParcelGenie's current European business has generated "double-digit millions of dollars in revenues" during the past 12 months. "Product gifting is a high margin sector," he explained.
To be clear, ParcelGenie isn't the only company to play in the area of digital-to-real-world gifting--similar offerings include those from KangoGift, Friendgiftr and Karma (recently purchased by Facebook). But the company's successes in Europe could well help it storm the U.S. market.
- ParcelGenie - digital gifts - wireless startups - Fierce 15 2012