The story you haven't heard
Announcing our Seed funding & Rebrand
By Nicole Emrani Green
CEO & Co-Founder
This is not another funding announcement. Well, sort of, and I'm going to claim it. Because I worked, we worked (my husband and the six other amazing women that make up our team) hard to get here and I'm so proud and grateful to reach this milestone.
In 2019, I was close to finishing my 3,000 hours requirement to become a fully-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in California, a career path I had been working towards for 10 years. After I completed my hours, I'd hopefully open my own dream private practice to provide support to those who needed it and help "bridge the gaps" in communication - a foundational concept necessary for relationships and connection. I started out as a peer counselor in high school, studied Psych in undergrad, and went to graduate school in San Francisco. After I completed my Masters, I returned home to Los Angeles and worked as an MFT associate, providing one on one psychotherapeutic support to individuals, adolescents, children, and families.
Although, I had a deep passion for Psych and human relationships, I also loved design and creative expression from a young age. I grew up obsessed with arts and crafts for as long as I can remember — from creating hand-drawn birthday greeting cards for my parents, to spending hours painting and drawing, to covering my entire bedroom wall in magazine cutouts (and yes, I mean and entire wall), and working in the fashion and music industries. At the end of the day, I appreciated and cultivated expression. Getting deep. Whether it be through colors and designs, or through words and relationships — I could feel the true importance of expression in my life.
Flash forward to 2019, my husband, Ben, and I launch Givingli as a side project. We had recently used digital invites for our wedding (yes, we're clearly Millennials) and we were excited that we could send something that meaningful, that was 100% digital, and that saved us so much time and money. When it came time to thanking, celebrating, and sending some love to friends and family, we strongly felt the pain of the greetings and gifting industry not being properly brought into digital yet — at least in a way we would actually want to use it — something simple, beautiful, sentimental, and 100% sustainable. So, we decided to build it.
We launched and...people actually liked it! People that weren't our friends and family were using it, for anything and everything. For friendship, for romantic relationships, for their co-workers, for their moms, for their dads, for their children — we couldn't believe it. Turns out we weren't the only ones who felt like something like this was missing in the digital space.
I ended up going full time on Givingli when I saw how it was helping people. We started by bringing on incredible artist partners, to which I am so grateful for taking a chance on me, on Givingli from the start (you know who you are). We went out and partnered with top brands for e-gifts, so users would have great options for sending the perfect gift. Everything was going great and we were slowly starting to pick up steam...and then, COVID hit.
We went from fun gifting app to a necessity virtually overnight, facilitating real connections and a platform for expression for thousands of people who could no longer be together in person, in the same city, or in the same state. The platform grew quickly and we received more interest from brands than we could ever imagine, came in contact with more artists that we wanted to amplify, and were even featured at the top of the App Store on Mother's Day 2020 leading to so many downloads that the app crashed. It was complete madness and we were trying to keep it all together, for ourselves, but mostly for the people who were depending on our platform.
We were no longer providing a convenient and "nice to have" digital gifting service. People were looking to us to deliver their Mother's Day cards, their son's birthday gift, or their words of encouragement for a loved one going through something. We were now responsible for holding a safe space for those deep, intimate, authentic forms of connection and expression on digital. A reality that has been missing for some time in the digital space.
2020 was the year that made everyone think. When IRL connection was taken away from us, we were forced to take a pause, take a look around at our lives and our relationships. It's the year that made us realize what "connection" really meant. Technically, we have all the "connections" we could ever ask for- with endless tweets, likes, posts, lives, DMs- We should feel golden. Yet, many of us feel the loneliest we've ever felt. Something wasn't right.
And now here we are, filling that void. We were excited to hear from our users that they were not only using us to celebrate and congratulate one another for special occasions — but they were using our platform to tell their closest loved ones how much they cared for one another, their friends how much they missed them "just because", their mom how grateful they are for everything they do for them, any loved ones who are struggling, sharing how much they support them. Because if they couldn't do it on our platform, where else will they? Through email, text, a DM?
Flash back to my days before Givingli. If I've learned anything, it's that people have a deep desire to feel loved and show love in meaningful ways, through symbolism and language. It's the backbone for true, authentic, and real connection. And what are we here for other than for each other? We are one of the most connected species on the planet and giving is as fundamental and foundational as it gets when it comes to human connection.
Giving gifts, from large or small, is one of the five defined love languages. It feels deeply rewarding to show someone you care about them. Giving someone something with sentimental value, a gift that took thought, or a letter full of expression and feelings — is one of the most powerful ways to express love. We believe if a picture is worth a thousand words, a personalized greeting and gift is worth a million.
Now, here we are. Without realizing it, Givingli has become something much more than a "gifting app." Rooted in the importance and the specialness of real human connection and design. Givingli is where connection meets creativity and giving to one another on a social platform isn't about amplifying ourselves, but about amplifying those around us. And guess what? It turns out that it feels just as good, if not better, to give to someone else than to take for ourselves.
Now, I'm not saying Givingli is the answer to all our problems. It isn't. But my hope is that it's a step in the right direction, tied to our best selves as humans, and our core need to connect.
This week, my partner and I, along with the Givingli Team, are celebrating some milestones:
Our re-brand — Full of color. With each color tied to every emotion, every experience, every moment to connect. It was hard to pick just one, so we picked them all. Ribbons that symbolize connection between people, words, relationships, and moments. And last, but not least, our infinite loop capital G. Holding the space for infinite connection, warmth, and never-ending support.
Secondly, our fundraising announcement (here is the fundraising announcement you've been waiting for) — We're excited to officially announce our raise of $3 Million from Alexis Ohanian's Seven Seven Six, leading our Seed round, including Snap and other amazing strategic partners and angels. I'm extremely grateful to all who join and support us on this journey, and we couldn't be luckier to have investors who deeply share our values and vision.
This fundraise is meant to help us support growth. Not just growth for Givingli, but also growth for our artist partners and brand partners on the platform. Most of all, it's going to help us continue to support our givers, when they need us most to send a meaningful message. To recognize the lows, just as much as celebrating the highs. To help people express and share things that are difficult at first, but feel so good to express. We will do all this by partnering with more talented and diverse artists from around the world, on boarding more great gifting brands and expanding our product offering, while building out our platform and adding creative tools for users.
I am so honored and excited to share this news with SUCH a great team, partners, and investors on board. To everyone who is aligned with our mission and chose to jump on board, I am so grateful. To our community to has found Givingli helpful, we're only working hard to do better.
And this is just the beginning...