SwiftGift: Kirill Chliaifchtein

While delivering presents to family and friends during a 'Santa day', this entrepreneur noticed a gap in the gifts market

Name: Kirill Chliaifchtein
Company: SwiftGift
Location: London
Launched: 26/11/15
No. of employees: 7
Website: swiftgift.me

Tell us what your business does:

SwiftGift is the world’s first instant gift messenger app. It allows you to send real gifts to phone numbers, no address needed.

You select what you want to send as a gift, and give SwiftGift the mobile phone number of whom you want to send it to.

SwiftGift takes care of the rest!

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Gifting is something I always enjoyed. It is a tangible display of emotion. Gifting expresses sentiment in a much more powerful way than words alone.

The problem is the associated friction in today’s gifting process.

For example, every Christmas I buy gifts for friends, family and colleagues. After buying them (in a store or online), I would set aside one whole “Santa Day” when I got the gifts wrapped, physically loaded them into my car and spend the day driving around and giving the gifts to the recipients in person.

SwiftGift solves this headache. I open the app, and with a few taps on my phone I am able to send gifts directly to my recipients using just their phone numbers!

We then figured out that the use cases for our technology are infinite: From the romantic guy who wants to surprise his dinner date with flowers the next morning; to the office worker who wants to send a bottle of whiskey to an important client following a meeting, when all he has is the client’s business card (and mobile phone number!).

We saw a problem, we analysed it, we solved it.

How did you know there was a market for it?

There was never any doubt here. Gifting is such a natural behaviour, and the market is so huge. We didn’t try to capture some new market, we simply disrupted the status quo and made it better.

Similar to Uber I guess, there was the old-school way of hailing a cab in the rain, Uber just made it more effortless and efficient.

SwiftGift does the same for gifting.

There are thousands of gifting websites, and they all compete in one dimension: The quality/price of their gift selection. We just added a whole new dimension: Not only can you choose WHAT to buy, but also seamlessly send it to ANYONE as simply as sending a text message.

This is really a game changer.

What were you doing before starting up?

Angel Investing and working in Investment Banking in the City.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Oh yes. It has always been a dream of mine.

To be master of your own destiny and to have your effort perfectly correlate to the success of your company. That really is a dream come true. And it really doesn’t feel like work, when you do something you love.

How did you raise the money?

Initially, I self-funded the project. Within months, I had started getting unsolicited offers of investment from Angels keen to join me on this exciting journey. Several of them are now investors in the business and we are raising another round now.

Describe your business model, and how you will make money:

We work with affiliates. In essence, we are a marketplace of gifts from over 1,400 quality merchants and brands (such as John Lewis, Swarovski, Apple, Whiskey Exchange etc.) We sell their merchandise and they pay us a commission for every item sold.

This commission is paid from the merchant’s margin, meaning that SwiftGift customers incur no additional charges. They pay the same price they would be paying directly at the merchant website. (e.g. A FitBit on SwiftGift is the same price as a FitBit in John Lewis – no hidden fees!)

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Really too many to mention here in this small space! I suppose one of the toughest is recruitment and getting the right team around you. As cliche as it sounds – businesses are all about people.

All the stars need to align: A candidate must be exceptionally talented, motivated, proactive and to top it all off – have a great personality. This is not easy to find, but we did it! We really have a stellar team!

What was your first big breakthrough?

The period now is exciting. Having launched not even two months ago we have had incredible traction, with week-on-week growth sometimes as high as 30%!

All organic with almost no marketing spend.

The feedback has been excellent and inspires us to work even harder! All our App ratings are 5* and we will fight hard to build an even better product for our customers with each new release.

In the pipeline are birthday calendar reminders, wishlists, daily deals and many more cool features! So keep checking in!

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

People, people, people. There is only so much you can do as an individual. Even if you are a superstar – there are just 24 hours in a day.

Get the right people around you – who support, elevate and help build value.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I want us to have scaled and expanded to multiple countries and for SwiftGift to have become THE accepted way of gifting.

There is really no need to ever go back to the old way of doing things. Why hail cabs in the rain when you can Uber, right?

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