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Fueled by word of mouth, Delightfully working to unwrap secret to e-gifting

Cambridge-based Delightfully allows online shoppers to “wrap” their gifts using photo collages, puzzles and scrapbooks that recipients must view or solve to “open” their presents.
Cambridge-based Delightfully allows online shoppers to “wrap” their gifts using photo collages, puzzles and scrapbooks that recipients must view or solve to “open” their presents.Delightfully

A year ago, Cambridge startup Delightfully was a finalist in the MassChallenge business competition. Now, the young company that makes digital giftwrapping is catching on with online shoppers, and its founders have been asked to serve as resources for this year’s MassChallenge finalists, who are three weeks into a four-month program of business development and networking that offers more than $1 million in total prize money.

Co-founder Gina Luciano takes the promising year as validation for Delightfully, which had to demonstrate that shoppers would pay to “wrap” online presents — say, an Amazon gift certificate sent by e-mail that is only revealed after the recipient scrolls through a photo collage.

“We’ve discovered that people are more than willing to pay for this,” Luciano said. “They’re willing to pay for wrapping paper, so I suppose it’s not that surprising. But with so many digital tools offering free services, it was something we wanted to prove right up front. And we did.”

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Since the company’s official launch late last year, Delightfully customers have put $3 digital wrapping paper on about 500 gifts. A quarter of gift givers have used the service more than once.

Delightfully has no marketing budget (it’s operating on about $100,000 in angel funds, the biggest chunk from Avid Technology founder Bill Warner), so the company’s growth is purely organic. Gift recipients, charmed by thoughtful presentations, often share their new photo puzzles and scrapbooks on social media, Luciano said. Some become customers.

Luciano and her partner, James Barabas, plan to launch a marketing effort in the near future and are contemplating a Kickstarter campaign to raise money and identify their loyal base.

The biggest hurdle for the company might be a perceived cap on how often someone can use Delightfully’s service, which is ideal for holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.

“We would love people to take it upon themselves to surprise people spontaneously,” Luciano said. “It doesn’t have to be with the expectation of a gift because of a holiday. It can just be out of the blue.”

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