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Smartgift is building a next-generation solution that allows online retailers to facilitate better gifting transactions and leverage unique insights to reinvent the digital gifting experience for brands and consumers.


Monika Kochhar

What first inspired you to build Smartgift?
I was on a trip to San Francisco when my best friend in NYC had just defended her Ph.D. thesis. I wanted to send her an immediate gift to congratulate her and knew that she wanted a formal office dress for upcoming interviews. That’s when it hit me, despite us spending so much time together – I really didn’t know her shipping address down to the zip code, I didn’t know what size would be a perfect fit nor the color she would prefer. That was the genesis of SmartGift.
Buying for others is incredibly difficult. SmartGift removes the friction and augments the shopping experience to an entirely new level creating delight and thoughtfulness for customers and significant commerce efficiencies for retailers and brands.

Why is now the time for Smartgift to exist?
A confluence of forces has created a unified way of shopping in which payments and commerce are no longer silos but come together to bring a completely seamless experience. I think this tectonic shift has led to the ultimate disruption in commerce. If payments were a pain then buying online would be a pain too. If buying online were extremely annoying then consumers wouldn’t even get to the payment stage. The deep innovation in both has led to the next generation of customer experiences, shopping becomes a persona based journey. SmartGift sits at the intersection of commerce, payments, and social connections. With give now, pay later – we remove the friction inherent in gifting or peer to peer shopping. We have fundamentally arrived in the age of experiences that delight and make things as easy as possible. Consumers today expect natural and powerful interfaces at the tip of their fingers. We are thrilled to be among the trailblazers who are taking commerce experiences to their next step.

Walk us through an average day in your life:
A day in my life is never average. The beauty of being an entrepreneur and a mother to the cutest 5-year-old is that every day something new is around the corner. New people, networks, platform ideas, fascinating data sets to split open and think through to the antics of a kid who is still discovering the world, fascinated by the simplest things that we adults take for granted. It’s an incredible daily reminder to be playful, curious and not to take everything too seriously.

What’s the biggest obstacle you are facing right now?
SmartGift is on an incredible growth path right now. We are seeing amazing traction of our product from our retailers, our brands, and our end users. With rapid growth comes the challenge of scaling the business to sustain this growth and remain as effective and nimble as possible. We focus on three business areas when we think of scaling; platform, processes and people. We’ve always put great thought and hard work into building a strong, scalable platform; so we continue to do well and are feeling the benefits. Today, we onboard new partners and push out new features even faster than we did a year ago.

All of 2018, we’ve put a considerable amount of effort into developing repeatable and timesaving processes across the business. That includes sales material, commercial agreements, security evaluations, team communication, customer care, and so much more. It reduces the frustration that comes with writing the same material over and over again and the team can accomplish so much more in less time.

Which opportunity that you are currently working toward is most exciting to you?
We are truly excited by the continuous innovation of our platform. One thing that we are working on is the Gift Genome. That’s really where we are able to synthesize data across all partners, understand customer interactions and map together with a complete and unique picture of gift givers, recipients, products, relationships, and occasions. Our goal is to get to a place where our aggregate data allows users to gift the perfect item based on information on people’s personas and preferences.

When did you realize you were really onto something with Smartgift?
At SmartGift, we constantly improve our platform by understanding the challenges that retailers face when implementing technology solutions. When we came to the market with our platform and saw the reaction of our retail partners – we knew that we were onto something truly transformative and innovative. Our brand partners can implement SmartGift in less than 10 days, which fulfilled our goal of creating something powerful and easy to set up.

Who do you look to for inspiration in your field and why?
I believe that the most unique perspectives come from interdisciplinary fields. From product design to emerging payment companies – we believe that collective innovation transpires fundamental change. Each successive product release, app release, and design blog is extremely helpful and inspiring.

What is your favorite work hack?
If something can be done in less than 3 minutes then get it done immediately.

What’s one piece of advice you would give a fellow entrepreneur?
Perseverance is everything. Connect with people in a genuine and open way and try to learn as much as possible from everyone. Speak less and listen more.

What do you want to be known for?
I am passionate about solving complex problems and moving human experiences forward through tech and design.

Words to live by?
We overestimate what we can achieve in a year and underestimate what we can achieve in a decade.

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