Updated: Mar 9, 2022
Finding the perfect gift can be very stressful and time-consuming. For any relationship or occasion, gift-givers need the reassurance that their purchase is a good fit.
That’s why Gerard Panganiban founded Giftinity, an automated gift recommendation platform that personalizes and simplifies the online gift shopping experience.
“When shopping for a gift, you are likely bombarded with irrelevant options,” said Gerard. “Giftinity aims to simplify the gift purchasing experience by recommending users only the most relevant, best-fit gifts.”
Through a proprietary algorithm, Giftinity’s app and web-based platform will allow users to discover the most suitable gift recommendations for any type of recipient, saving gift-purchasers tremendous time and worry in the process.
To see a walkthrough of the upcoming Giftinity app, you can check out the experience at this link: https://giftinity.us/demo
Originally from the Philippines, Gerard is an experienced developer and designer. He worked in Dubai for 8 years, and following that experience came to DePaul to earn his MS in Human Computer Interaction. Gerard is also the founder of Graphyte Technologies, where he serves clients with a range of web development and design services.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Giftinity?
Gerard: “The idea behind Giftinity came to me while at DePaul. When I first pitched the concept in class, it fascinated me that students – and even my professor – told me, ‘if this was a real product, I would absolutely have use for this.’ Outside of class, people would respond to the idea with, ‘you know, I have the same exact problem with gifting: not knowing what to give.’
For my customer interviews, I initially focused on corporate managers. I wanted to speak with this audience, and understand more about how they approach gifting. These interviews provided insight that, during the holiday season, managers often find themselves purchasing gifts last-minute, resulting in their employees being dissatisfied with the item.
Through a recent accelerator, I discovered another potential market for Giftinity: mothers of small children. It turns out that mothers are the most passionate about gifting, compared to many other audiences. It became clear to me that the total opportunity for Giftinity is huge.”
Q: What specific skills have helped you on your entrepreneurial journey?
Gerard: “You need a lot of passion for your idea. Without passion, the struggles and difficulties will just cause you to quit.
It’s also important to be resourceful. Building, marketing and managing a business as a one-man band is draining. Having too much on your plate makes it hard to progress towards key goals, so finding somebody to work with or support you as your business grows is crucial.
Finally, you have to be comfortable with risk. Starting a business entails a lot of risk: money-wise of course, but also emotionally. Entrepreneurship can be a rollercoaster of emotions, so you need to be mentally tough."
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Gerard: “I love that entrepreneurship gives me the opportunity to both plan and execute ideas. Being an entrepreneur, the ability to follow-through on the right ideas is imperative.
Entrepreneurship has also allowed me to meet all sorts of people. Right now, I face the need to spread the word about Giftinity – without doing that, the business won’t move forward. Entrepreneurs need to put themselves out there, attending events and talking to investors. Before this journey, I actually considered myself an introvert, but stepping outside of my comfort zone for my passion was so rewarding.”
Q: What key activities would you recommend student entrepreneurs invest their time in?
Gerard: “There is a famous Steve Jobs quote, ‘if you haven’t found your purpose, keep looking.’ Attend events, talk to people, and whenever you have ideas, share them with the world to validate. See if your idea resonates with people, or if a pressing market need exists.
Some entrepreneurs may have this notion, ‘if I have an idea, I have to keep it a secret.’ As for the successful entrepreneurs I’ve met, how they succeed is by spreading the word early, asking questions, and getting their ideas out.
I would also suggest students utilize all resources available to them, even the free ones. The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul helped me acquire membership to 1871, the technology incubator in Chicago. Through DePaul’s relationship, I was a member at 1871 for two years. In that time, I enlisted the free service of a lawyer, which was super helpful for me in getting Giftinity up and running.”