Gratafy is the social gifting platform that lets anyone send friends, clients, and coworkers actual drinks, dinner, desserts and a whole lot more from anywhere, anytime.
What’s your traction been like thus far?
Since we’re operating in a two-sided market, before any users would be interested in joining Gratafy we first had to build out the supply side, also known as our fantastic merchant partner base (bars, restaurants, etc) whose menu items are offered for sale as gifts on the Gratafy platform. Thus far, traction has been really solid with merchant partners. Gratafy acts as a way to enhance and amplify our partners’ current marketing and social media strategies by finally allowing them to offer their unique signature menu items online and through social media at full price, 24/7, thereby making their digital assets transactional, and giving them the ability to more effectively interact with their customer bases, as well as acquire new customers. We’ve more recently begun turning our attention to consumer acquisition and marketing. This is starting to pick up pretty quickly, but we still have quite a few things we’re working on to really refine the customer experience.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started Gratafy?
Oh my goodness, so many things. Where to start. If we had to narrow it down to only one, it would probably be the ability to program. In the two years since we started the company, we’ve become pretty well-versed in development, but in the beginning we were at the bottom of a pretty steep curve. Starting off with a great idea and a solid execution plan is important, but if you can’t actually build it (or at least the MVP to help you raise funding with which to build out a team), you’re at a disadvantage from the start.
What’s a hypothesis that you’ve had that has failed? And how did you respond?
We have always been big believers in nailing the customer experience at all costs; if we can’t build it in a way that we believe is right, then we just won’t build it. And this goes for both the consumer side and the merchant side of the equation, of course. To that end, we’ve gone to great lengths to build patent pending technology that tightly integrates into various point of sale (POS) systems. In the beginning when we didn’t have very many integrations completed, but still needed to serve merchant demand, we (hesitantly) tested out a hybrid verification solution that sat outside the POS. This worked okay in a small percentage of merchants, but basically broke down in the vast majority. This was unfortunate, but was a very worthwhile experiment to confirm and validate all of the time, money, and effort we were planning on spending on full integrations. We’re pretty big into trying lots of little things, rapidly testing them, keeping what works, and getting rid of the rest. This philosophy of evolutionary progress stimulates plenty of variation, allowing our top-notch team members to experiment with new ideas, but not get penalized for being wrong. We only hire the best people – might as well leave them alone and let them do what they do best: solve problems.
What’s your favorite startup in Seattle? (Besides your own!)
We’ve had the privilege to get to know Adam Lieb of Duxter and Robi Ganguly of Apptentive over past months and years and we love what they’re doing, both in terms of their respective concepts, but moreover how they’re executing those concepts and what they fundamentally believe with regard to how they run their companies. We’re excited to see what amazing things they achieve in the coming months and years!
What’s your favorite thing about being a startup in Seattle?
People are just so nice here. Everyone is always so eager to help. It’s a tight network of great people. Maybe a bit hard to break into, but once you forge the connections, it’s such a great place to run a company.
What’s your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
We love the creative aspects. Both in terms of coming up with abstract solutions to tough problems and generating original concepts and content, as well as actually creating something from scratch that literally did not exist a year ago. As tough as it is when you’re operating in the weeds day to day, when you speak to someone who you haven’t seen in awhile and they’re impressed with how much progress you’ve made, it’s pretty cool to gain that higher level perspective and realize you really are achieving something.
What does success look like for Gratafy?
We think Jim Collins summarized success best: we would view ourselves as successful (and blessed) if we were considered the best of breed in our specific niche, we all thoroughly enjoyed what we were working on from day to day and month to month, and the company was generating enough revenue to make us profitable as well as sustain and grow the business over the long-term.
What’s your favorite local sports team?
How would you describe your company culture?
We live for the product we produce. We take it personally when something we put out gets broken or doesn’t work properly, and we take user feedback very seriously. While over the long-term we believe the company as a whole will be much greater than any leader, founder, or single product, right now the company really is the product. We have always taken a “no shortcuts” approach in every aspect of the business. From establishing truly mutually beneficial partnerships with the best merchant partners in existence (so far these have been restaurants, bars, nightlife venues, and hotels), to building rock solid technology and a great user experience, to remaining disciplined and focused in on a specific niche, we have always pursued the highest level of excellence. We’ve resisted the temptation to build a lesser, more easily scalable product in favor of a more sound concept that has taken longer to build, but that we believe is built for the long-term. The reason it works is that we truly believe in what we are doing, and why we’re doing it – you just can’t fake it for this long given the intense ups and downs that are inherent in every startup. We come into work every day for reasons above and beyond a paycheck and the dreams of a big exit.
If your company were an animal, what would it be and why?
The fox. There’s a certain level of mystique around the fox. I mean, the dog goes woof, cat goes meow, and the elephant goes toot. But what does the fox say? Nobody knows what sound they make. It’s just so intriguing. We’d love for people to be intrigued by, and curious about Gratafy.
If you were to take Gratafy on a date, where would it want to go?
We’d probably sneak onto the old Double Dare set and then head over to an Ethan Stowell restaurant for some food and quality cocktails. Not necessarily in that order, I suppose. On one hand we like to have fun and definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously. On the other hand we do take the product seriously, we’re passionate about food and drink, and we truly hold ourselves to the highest standards.