Elevator Pitch: Thankly

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Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Dr Kate Adams, founder of gift-giving service Thankly.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Thankly makes sending a personalised, memorable, handwritten card or thank you gift as easy as sending an email. We are about sending small, inexpensive, gestures for everyday occasions where you want to say thanks to someone that’s gone that extra mile. It’s like tech that connects people in the real world–choose a card and handwriting style, compose a message and if you wish, add a gift. Unlike sending flowers or a big grandiose expensive hamper, Thankly is for showing gratitude for the everyday things people do to support us. Designed to be gestures of appreciation, gifts are sent gift boxed, with a card from $30 with overnight delivery around Australia.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Thankly makes sending a personalised, memorable, handwritten card or thank you gift as easy as sending an email. We are about sending small, inexpensive, gestures for everyday occasions where you want to say thanks to someone that’s gone that extra mile. It’s like tech that connects people in the real world–choose a card and handwriting style, compose a message and if you wish, add a gift. Unlike sending flowers or a big grandiose expensive hamper, Thankly is for showing gratitude for the everyday things people do to support us. Designed to be gestures of appreciation, gifts are sent gift boxed, with a card from $30 with overnight delivery around Australia.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?

Finance. We have lots of challenges, but they all are fixable with money. Our growth is limited by the amount of funds available to us. To take us to the next level and really scale we will need to go out and find some investment.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

We are currently the only service available in Australia that does handwritten cards. Not only is our card design truly unique but each and every card is handwritten in the user’s choice of handwriting. To the recipient, it looks like the sender wrote it themselves.

We aren’t a typical gift store or a hamper company–we are more service delivery for ‘thank yous’. We aim to service all the busy people of Australia that can’t find the time to go and buy a gift, a card, wrap it and then spend an hour at the post office sending it. We only ever have 15-20 products at one time. We do this to avoid the ‘too much choice leads to indecision’ paradox which is common for gift sites.

We also have Thankly for Business which has been really successful. It has been shown businesses that personalise and connect with clients and customers in writing see an uplift in sales and brand advocacy. Clients, customers and employees want to feel valued, special, and as though they have a personal relationship with the business. Businesses can send one or 1,000 cards or gifts with customised, branded cards and different messages on each. We often match the handwriting with one similar to that of the CEO or sender so the recipient feels that it was written by them.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

I know it sounds bizarre, but Notes on my iPhone. I write all my appointments and to-dos as well as thoughts and lists in there. I can edit them quickly and I have the freedom to write whatever I wish.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

Validate first, build second and be as speedy as you possibly can with your launch (80/20 rule applies). When it comes to startups I see it time and time again people who spend a year perfecting their product without testing (and selling it). You’re not going to be perfect when you first launch. Your website will crash, your product might break, you’ll not be happy with images, packaging and the like and you’ll have no processes. It will be chaos.

At the beginning I told everyone who would listen about the idea (without NDAs!) to get feedback and listen to what people would want. I then sold. I went out to businesses and started selling handwritten card services. The response was good. I then built as quickly as I possibly could with a minimum lovable product and I am still far from 100% happy with every aspect. But what I do know, is that I have something that will sell and I can now listen to actual customer feedback in order to refine the offering and build services that people are actually willing to pay for.


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