Today we have selected Archer Chiang to take his interview. He is the CEO of Giftpack.
First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?
Because of the pandemic, we had to pivot and focus on our AI algorithms. But COVID-19 ended up giving our company a boost in sales, growth, and investment. Businesses around the world are spending more on gifts. As of 2021, the average check had increased by more than 60% to around $125 per unit year-over-year.
Gifts are an obvious way to bolster remote workers’ motivation and build long-lasting relationships with clients. Last year, the median corporate gift budget went up by 22%, with most of that growth attributed to gifts for employees. COVID-19 reminded businesses how important it is to show their workers that the company cares about them.
Tell us about yourself, your career.
Giftpack is my fourth business. I am 29 years old, and I started my first company when I was 19, in college back home in Taiwan.
I was looking at Stanford for my master’s degree, but my family couldn’t pay the tuition. I realized the fastest way to make money was to start my own business. I launched a software development company I sold a year before graduation.
I started a product-oriented business in my final year of college, my first social gifting service. Our users could purchase a gift, and recipients could get a QR code to redeem it online or in-store. We raised funds from the Chinese investors and rolled out the service in Beijing. However, after I graduated, I had to do mandatory military service for a year, so the business went under.
Later, I created another business that became incredibly successful. We tapped into the Internet of Things (IoT), developing software for Sony, Hitachi, and other producers of smart devices. We also work with developers of smart construction technology, such as Panasonic, so we’ve been able to plug and play our software solutions into the buildings. This business is still active.
How did you start Giftpack?
I wanted to continue the business that I built before my military service, but smarter and more global scale. As an international student in the U.S., it was hard to stay in touch with my family and maintain close relationships when I lived at home. FaceTime and social media weren’t good enough for me. Sending gifts was expensive and time-consuming; even letters on thick paper cost me $50 and would take three days to deliver. Showing your family that you care shouldn’t take so much time or money.
I was trying to figure out if I could send gifts with experiences, like a guitar song or fireworks. In 2017, we launched our service, Giftpack.io, in 29 cities worldwide. At the time, it was a marketplace, kind of like Uber or Doordash for gifts. Our users would pick up a gift, and we had more than 5,000 contractors to deliver it in a few hours.
After a little while, though, we faced the main problem of the giving economy: How do you choose the best gift for a specific person? That’s when we started using AI algorithms to match recipients with gifts based on their interests.
When COVID happened, most delivery companies went bankrupt or had to scale back operations, our contractors refused to work, and revenue dropped dramatically. But our clients in Silicon Valley said, “Don’t give up; we have this idea for you: continue with your algorithms and create a corporate gifting service.” We had our MVP, Giftpack.ai, a few months later, focusing on AI-powered gifting technology.
How does your company innovate?
We aim to transform the way people and businesses choose gifts. Giftpack’s own AI solution finds gifts from a catalog of over three million products available worldwide. By analyzing the recipient’s keywords, social media, and digital footprint, the service gets a sense of their tastes, interests, and preferences, then offers a selection tailored to their personality.
Did you have to make difficult choices — and what are the lessons learned?
Pivoting during the pandemic was difficult, but if we’d kept waiting and hadn’t made the decision right away, we never would have made it at all. I decided to close 98% of our operations in many cities and focus on Giftpack.ai. If I’d continued doing business the old way, I could’ve lost our business altogether. I dropped everything to put all my resources into a new company.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
I don’t see warehouse businesses and department stores as competitors, more like partners. There are also other gifting services, but our strength is that Giftpack was ready to go international from day one. We are currently available in 78 countries around the globe.
Technology isn’t the only reason we’re ahead of the game — it’s also because we partner with local gift providers. Other services mostly focus on markets in their regions. Giftpack is a pure software company to source any gifts from around the world. That’s why we’ve been able to stand out. With so many vendors in so many countries, we have three million products to choose from.
The other advantage is gifting targets and starting price. In the U.S., we mostly focus on employees and existing clients. When people have stronger relationships, they want to spend more. They also become repeat customers as those relationships grow from year to year.
Finally, our starting prices are very affordable. Most corporate gifting platforms ask for at least $20,000 as a starting price, which is not feasible for a small company. With our smart technology, we can process smaller orders and serve any business. By the end of the year, we hope to close our series A at $5 to $6 million.
But AI-powered gifting isn’t just for the corporate sector—it’s for individual people too. Right now, over 4,000 individual clients are currently using the Giftpack platform. Our technology will eventually transform the way people choose and receive gifts. Thinking about gifting? Giftpack!
• Spokesperson: Archer Chiang
• Company: Giftpack
• Website: https://giftpack.ai