There is never a time of year where gifts aren’t on your mind. There are always birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and holidays and you need to be on your toes to make sure you can get a gift suited for whatever the occasion. If you’re looking for a new place to find these gifts, check out Whilo. The social gifting app is your go-to for finding personal gifts, as well as a platform to discover what other people want. You no longer need to ask someone about what to buy them and you won’t have to choose a random gift.
Cofounder Lindsey Miles spoke with LATechWatch about the company and how it plans to provide better gifts for all.
Tell us about the product or service.
Whilo is a social gifting platform that makes gifting easy. The name Whilo is short for “what I love,” and signifies one single place to save all your favorite things, from wine to shoes to concerts to restaurants. Users can add items from any website using their desktop or mobile device, or they can browse in-app to see what’s trending and discover unique products from around the globe. Plus, users can find and follow friends to see what’s on their list. At Whilo, we believe the best gift should be a surprise, not a guess, and that’s what the app enables users to do – elate others with a gift they love.
How is it different?
Whilo is the only gifting solution that guarantees you get the perfect gift. By allowing users to search anything they love from their desktop or iPhone, Whilo makes it easy for anyone to create custom lists of their favorite things in one convenient location. Then, by following each other’s lists, they always know exactly what their loved ones have their eye on without ever having to ask. Not to mention, they never have to worry what size or color to choose from, as their in-app profile includes all of that information and makes getting it right that much easier.
Whilo also helps users manage the gifting process by notifying them well in advance of upcoming birthdays and events. This way, users have plenty of time to browse the lists of their loved ones and send them the perfect gift. Whilo also prevents any “double gifting” by marking an item as purchased from one’s list for all users to see, except the gift receiver. Instead, the gift receiver will get a notification that a gift is on its way – but knowing who or what will remain a complete surprise.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We are entering the $200 billion gifting market. With a feature set carefully chosen to marry the best of personal shopping and gift registries, we are changing the way people give and receive gifts for any occasion.
What is the business model?
Since Whilo is currently in open beta, the app is currently free for users to download and use. However, we are working to implement monetization strategies such as affiliate sales and advertisements very soon.
What needs to be done to improve mobile commerce?
While mobile payments have certainly become more mainstream, the challenge now is creating a more convenient payment and checkout process for consumers on their smartphones. The convenience of “one-click” payments and integrated shopping carts are two key factors that will take mobile commerce to the next level. This will be a large part of our focus in the coming year to make the Whilo user experience as simple and stress-free as possible.
Tell us a little about your background and what inspired the business?
I’ve always had a passion for business and creation. After receiving an MBA focused on entrepreneurship, I went on to apply what I learned and developed a few businesses of my own. One of my previous ventures was a consulting company called BLU LA, which helped startups and small businesses with business planning, growth strategy and financial planning. I also founded Rental Harmony, a web-based tool that helped optimize the tenant-to-landlord matching process.
Then, of course, there is Whilo. The creation of Whilo is a pretty interesting story, actually. The idea originally started with one of my co-founders, who realized the challenge of gifting for her children’s friends. When tasked with finding a gift for them, she never knew what to buy a 12-year-old girl in Los Angeles or an eight-year-old girl in her native Australia. She thought it would be wonderful to have a place where you could get an idea of their personalities and a few things they like.
Whilo has evolved quite a bit since then, as it’s become a platform where users can save everything they love and make giving the perfect gift simple and convenient. From teenagers to grandparents, Whilo users span the globe and the age spectrum.
Tell us what building your company in LA has been like?
LA has been such a great place for building Whilo. The extensive amount of resources and talent the city provides has been extremely beneficial to our success. With the ability to tap into the entertainment and lifestyle resources, as well as the expansive “Silicon Beach” and its technology resources, we have made great connections and built a strong, confident team. It’s also a really fun place to be right now as a founder. The culture is collaborative, fast-paced and supportive. It’s fantastic.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We are currently working on a platform update to be released in the coming months. We are very excited for this update, as it will enhance the gifting experience for our users even further through the ability to follow others, in addition to increased personalization and product discovery capabilities.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?
A few months ago my response would have been different, but I recently had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite investors in the LA scene: Paige Craig, which was fantastic.
If I had the opportunity, I would love to connect with Ashton Kutcher. I believe our brand is very well aligned with Ashton’s investment philosophy, of which I’m a huge fan: “The companies that will ultimately do well are the companies that chase happiness. If you find a way to help people find love, or health or friendship, the dollar will chase that.” He has a great team that brings tremendous value to the companies in which they invest. It would be wonderful to have the opportunity to meet with him and his team.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
Being “Made in LA” means being a part of an inspirational community. Filled with successful business across many sectors (entertainment, finance, technology, etc.), we are proud to be a part of a great city and look forward to expanding our network.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
LA is a hub of great talent, and the importance of hosting engaging and inclusive business events is an excellent way to get aspiring and current entrepreneurs interested and involved in the local business scene. In addition, engaging with schools and universities in the area, many of which are introducing new “Entrepreneurship” programs, is a great way to get young people excited about the growth in this sector. This is also a great way to show them that if they want to find a great job in tech or business, they can find it all right here in LA.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity in LA?
I live not far from the beach, and am a huge fan of sports. One of my favorite things in the world is to run the strand from Will Rogers State Beach, through Santa Monica, under the pier, into Venice Beach and onto the boardwalk. On one side, there’s so much life happening, while the other is a vast expanse of seemingly endless water – it’s invigorating.