Gift-Guru

Gift Guru, a web application still in its early phases, helps people stay on top of occasions and opportunities for gift-giving.

Danny Livermore doesn’t see his startup Gift Guru as an enterprise about gift-giving, although he would acknowledge that’s a big part of it. He sees the company as one that's primarily about relationships.

“Most big occasions, if you think about the real goal of it, it's to grow relationships and extend appreciation for the loved ones in your life,” he said. “And I think the gift-giving aspect of it is a bit overblown.”

That’s why Livermore founded Gift Guru, a web application to help people keep track of people in their lives, important events, and gift ideas, he said. It’s a tool to help people spend less energy on the hassle and logistics of buying things, and more on considerations of how best to show love or appreciation.

“The goal is taking away the aspects (of gift-giving) that are stress inducing, and allow it to be a little bit more of a creative process,” he said.

Livermore, who has a background in chemical engineering and business analysis, left a corporate job with the Boston Consulting Group a year and a half ago to figure out a pathway in entrepreneurship. He had a lot of ideas floating around in his brain, he said, from car sensors that could scan roads for potholes to an app tipping valets.

He ultimately landed on Gift Guru, largely because he realized it was something he needed in his life.

“I care about people in my life. But I'm not great at reflecting that at certain times,” he said.

The service, still in its very early stages, works by managing information that users provide it — important people in their lives, the interests those people have, occasions coming up on the calendar that may merit some gift or recognition, and the dates when those things are taking place.

The end result is a tool that organizes that information in a single place, and that can passively send reminders about different events on the horizon.

Based on the interests of the people listed, Gift Guru also spits out a list of potential gifts to consider buying. It currently pulls from Amazon listings, though Livermore hopes to build out a marketplace of local and boutique vendors.

Livermore stressed that the gifting aspect is secondary — Gift Guru can simply be a handy way to remember to send a card, or make a phone call.

It’s a tool that Livermore thinks could help different kinds of people — those overwhelmed with constant streams of birthdays and weddings and graduations, or people like him who feel like they could use a system to ensure they stay connected with friends and loved ones.

The app is in its infancy, and Livermore says that more testing is needed. He said that the development of the software has been a drawn out process, in part because of his lack of a technical background. However, he’s hopeful the startup will be able to accelerate from a crawl to a walk in the near future. He’s already been testing the product, and he hopes in the near future to begin fundraising.

Meanwhile, he has other aspirations for the product. He plans on integrating a way for people to use the app to recommend gifts for people who may be tough to shop for because of their niche interests.

He also aspires to grow the app into a holistic holiday and event-planning app. There’s plenty on the market to help figure out music, food and logistics for weddings, he said. That’s less true for other occasions.

“What's the resource to go to for planning winter holidays? It's kind of scattered all over,” he said.

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Erik Lorenzsonn is the Capital Times' tech and culture reporter. He joined the team in 2016, after having served as an online editor for Wisconsin Public Radio and having written for publications like The Progressive Magazine and The Poughkeepsie Journal.