Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of Atlanta’s rising startups from last quarter here.
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Plenty of people know the joy of opening a card on their birthday and having a gift card fall into their lap — the promise of a free shopping trip on the horizon. But for many, the excitement is fleeting since every year, billions of dollars go unspent on gift cards. Nowadays when everything is online, physical gift cards have found themselves stuck in the past, but one startup hopes to help stores bring them into the future.
Govalo is geared toward helping small and medium-sized businesses fuel their growth with its digital gift card building solution. At a time when consumers want to support small businesses however they can, one of those ways is to spread the word by gifting those stores’ products to others, particularly with gift cards.
“We need to support our merchants because we really believe that the legacy these SMBs are building [is] for the future of their family … and we want to support and enable their build,” Rhian Beutler, Govalo’s CEO, told Built In.
The company issues gift cards for merchants who sell on Shopify. Using Govalo, a business can set up their gift card’s name, image and dollar value. When a customer goes to purchase a gift card, rather than seeing an “add to cart” button, they are prompted to send the gift card directly to the recipient via email, alongside a personalized note. The platform also features the ability to schedule gift card delivery for a future date, like during the holidays.
“The fact [is] that we just had money laying around, ready to spend and forgot that it existed. We’re not the only ones here; this is a widespread problem.”
Govalo got its start in 2021, alongside the growing e-commerce business scene during the pandemic. Despite the increasingly modernized online shopping sector, the concept of gift cards didn’t receive the same amount of innovation, according to the company. Currently, consumers tend to have trouble keeping track of their various gift cards and each card’s balance. Govalo’s digital solution was built to help merchants sell easier-to-use gift cards to customers.
Beutler highlighted a moment near the beginning of the pandemic that emphasized the outdated nature of physical gift cards. She rediscovered a stash of gift cards in a drawer that her daughter had received for her Bat Mitzvah two years prior. The entire stack of cards was unspent and unredeemable online.
“The fact [is] that we just had money laying around, ready to spend and forgot that it existed. We’re not the only ones here; this is a widespread problem,” Beutler said. “So many folks keep a balance on a gift card and they never cash it in, and that’s something that we are also trying to solve. It’s not just about moving the needle in terms of selling gift cards, it’s then moving the needle in terms of gift card redemption.”
Down the line, Govalo is developing platform integrations that will enable merchants’ customers to purchase a gift card online that can be used in-store, as well as the other way around.
“We’re making sure that our merchants can have [an] end-to-end branded wraparound experience for gifting through omnichannel from multiple verticals,” Beutler said.