Photo: Arielle Goldman
Arielle Goldman and Jonathan (Natan) Packin were dating when they came up with an idea for a startup.They called their idea GiftHit; it’d be a way to send friends physical gifts via Facebook.
While Packin worked for his family’s lumber business, Goldman was a law student with a lot of free time to investigate their idea.
They figured out a way to create a product that would escape gift card laws. The next step was to gauge merchants’ interest.
Goldman is more introverted than Packin. He coaxed her into pitching the first few stores.
“Jonathan pushed me to go out to the merchants and meet them because I was really shy at first,” she says. “He’d tell me we were taking a walk but convince me to bring the brochures. We’d stop in every shop in the East Village.”
Finally, the first small business bit. “Standup New York Comedy was our first client. Jonathan and I were together for that pitch,” Goldman says.
A year and a half later, Gifthit has three employees and 35 local New York businesses on board. The team is gearing up for GiftHit’s official launch on October 4.
“We’ve done this on a quarter of a shoestring,” Goldman said of her bootstrapped startup.
Here’s how GiftHit works: Users connect to Facebook and select a recipient within their social networks. They then select an item, like a cupcake or a pair of tickets, from the dropdown. GiftHit sends a text, email or a Facebook wall post to the friend, alerting them of the present. The friend is instructed when and how to collect the gift.
There’s no signup cost for stores on GiftHit. Merchants just choose five of their staple items to display on the site and it’s sold at the full price on GiftHit. GiftHit users are charged a $1 convenience fee and the merchant is paid when the recipient stops in the store to collect the gift. GiftHit takes 15% of each purchase. If the gift is never collected, the GiftHit expires and the tax is remitted to the State. GiftHit keeps the rest of the money.
Packin and Goldman are now married. But it’s not necessarily easy founding a company with your significant other.
“Natan is my co-founder and GiftHit is our baby. We can up with the idea together and we figured out the mechanics of the business together,” says Goldman. “Ultimately it is really hard to work every single day with your boyfriend. He’s still at his family business and I run the company. But he has great ideas for it.”
For another power startup couple, check out our Q&A with Eventbrite’s married co-founders, Kevin and Julia Hartz: How To Marry Your Cofounder And Not Kill Your $200 Million Startup In The Process >
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