UW alumni Brian Erke and Ryan Halper are changing the way people think about buying gifts.
Their application, Gratafy, launched Oct. 23 and allows users to buy a drink, another menu item, or even a game of pool for a friend from anywhere in the world.
Erke and Halper believe that buying an experience for a friend or loved one is the perfect way to celebrate an occasion or say “thank you.” But sometimes distance or other obligations can prevent such a gift.
“Experience-gifting allows a lot more possibilities,” Halper said.
The developers said their app is called Gratafy because it provides instant gratification, even when people can’t be together.
Gratafy allows the gift-giver to choose and purchase from an ever-growing selection of gifts. The receiver is alerted through Facebook, email, or text and can redeem the gift using a three-digit Gratafy code when paying. Tax and gratuity are included.
Erke and Halper have been friends since studying business together at the UW. They said shared experiences — both online and offline — have been important since their time at the university.
“The seeds were planted at UW,” Erke said.
The idea for the app came from Erke and Halper’s personal experiences. They remained friends after graduating, but spent a lot of time traveling and were not around for events and birthdays.
“I always kind of wished there was a way to make it easier to send someone a gift, something a little bit more than a text,” Erke said.
The app currently only includes locations in Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma. Some of the now 40 participating locations include Blue C Sushi and Tom Douglas restaurants. Users can purchase anything from a $3 Olympian Beer to a $30 meal. Halper said soon they will be able to purchase experiences such as ski passes or tickets to a game or concert.
Erke and Halper plan to expand the app to include businesses across the United States. They are looking at user input to help them grow their company and change the way people think about giving a gift.
They said the app changes things because often people see birthdays on Facebook and want to do something, but it’s too last-minute. Gratafy gives them a chance to instantly give something thoughtful through social media. The app also includes inexpensive items for friends on a budget who don’t want to sacrifice giving a memorable gift.
Senior Yuhan Huang uses apps and the Internet for most of his purchases and said Gratafy would be a convenient way for him to buy gifts for his friends. “The things we really feel like are most important are the experiences — the memories — that you generate when you’re with a group of people,” Halper said.
Reach contributing writer Amy Busch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AmyBusch2
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