How a couple from different parts of the world meet, fell in love, and invented the world’s first social ecommerce marketplace and a gift system allowing the user to control the order they get their gifts.
SOMERVILLE, NJ, January 4, 2020 — Filipe and Liana met in New York City on October 10, 2011. They started dating, and would go on to establish Giftapart a few years later. Giftapart has innovated a way for anyone to get their dream gift, or setup a gift registry and get the items in the precise order they pick. In the process, Giftapart has also invented social ecommerce and amassed an online marketplace of America’s top retailers providing over 25,000,000 products.
Giftapart was created as a solution to an ageless question: What do you gift to the ones you love? It appears to be such a simple question, but often leads to a complicated and time consuming answer. In a world with millions of stores and billions of products, selecting that just-right gift has became nearly impossible. However, Giftapart has simplified and perfected the process of gift giving.
The original idea behind what would become Giftapart resulted from a university project by co-founder Liana Pedroso, currently Giftapart’s Chief Administrative Officer. At the time, while she was studying for her second Masters in Public Relations at NYU, the scope was much narrower and Liana focused on a better way to gift a car — through equally priced affordable parts so that the family and friends could contribute together. “Just think about it, how awesome would that be; instead of all the unused gift cards to the stores you don’t shop at and getting gifts not to your taste on holidays, you could actually get contributions to the car that you will be so thrilled to have!” said Liana.
But that wasn’t it. Filipe Pedroso, her fiancé at the time, elaborated on the idea and said, “Why can’t we do this for everything!?” And that’s how gifting-a-part came to life back in 2012.
Filipe, now Liana’s husband and CEO of Giftapart, stated: “Today Giftapart is so much more. It’s the only place where you can shop, give gifts, chat and create events — all in one place. Let me elaborate. We’ve spent countless hours thinking of everything you may need to give and receive the gifts you will love and made it as easy as one, two, three. So, we combined the most convenient tools you’ll ever need in gift exchanging. First, Giftapart is a mega-mall that provides you with hundreds of trusted retailers all in one place. That’s millions of products to choose from, with no worries about counterfeits. Second, we created a feature-rich, beautiful event planing page, where you can easily invite, interact with your guests, and share party media. Lastly, to top it of, we created a unique gift registry, that allows you to get the most desired and pricey gifts that you wouldn’t dare ask for; but since Giftapart breaks them down into affordable parts, everyone can chip-in towards your dream item. Through gifting-by-parts, we created a way for you to control the order you get the gifts. For the first time in the world, you can create a list of gifts, and, for example, get the new refrigerator before the microwave, and the microwave before the bedding set. This is a tremendous tool for wedding couples, but also for anyone, like teenagers, wanting the latest pricey tech gadgets.”
Liana added, “Most of the ideas behind Giftapart were triggered by the struggles we would routinely have around holidays and birthdays. You see, as an international family, where my husband was born in Portugal and I was born in Russia, most of our relatives and close friends remained overseas and exchanging gifts became challenging. So each time we would think of how to make gift giving easier, simpler and accessible even while apart.”
“I would also see my teenage daughters struggle with what to buy their friends,” commented Filipe, “And when my daughters had birthday parties, the fact is they would get gift cards to stores they weren’t fond of and small presents that had little significance to them. What teenagers want are usually pricier items, often outside the budget of any one friend. With Giftapart, they can setup their own gift, for what they really want, and their friends have a super-easy time simply selecting the parts to buy, pay, and their done.”
Liana explained, “I believe Giftapart is a place where people can give gifts and have that feeling of satisfaction knowing that they gave something that the other person will truly enjoy. Giftapart also lets people leave a heartwarming message linked to their gifted parts, to make gift giving process personal once again. Unlike gift cards that leave the gift giver feeling empty, a little guilty, and disconnected, the Giftapart gifting experience is just the opposite — connective and satisfying — and even easier than searching and buying a gift card.”
Filipe said, “It’s a very exciting project because we have invented a way for people from all walks of life to be able to get items that would typically be beyond their financial means and that they wouldn’t get otherwise. Using Giftapart, you now have a fun and easy way to help people get their dream items, and isn’t that wonderful.”
“It hasn’t always been easy,” added Filipe, “When the original idea behind Giftapart was realized, we quickly found out we were ahead of the times. The concept of this model required the end user to actually get the gift, not money. There weren’t any online marketplaces combining big-box retailers back in 2012 so we knew that could potentially be a problem, if retailers wouldn’t agree to sale their items in a joint marketplace.
“I knew that the future of ecommerce would lead to cybermalls. History was on our side. When the physical mall concept started in the early years of the 20th century, retailers hesitated then too. They were afraid of placing their brand next to others. Eventually they learned that they can actually sell more when consumers are given the convenience of finding a lot of merchandise in close proximity. Well, ecommerce marketplaces are just that, a convenient way for consumers to find what they need. Convenience wins. But, we would still be one of the first, and the concept wasn’t widely accepted yet.”
The Pedrosos decided to seek some consulting. Through a mutual contact, they were placed in touch with Charles Chinni. Chinni is a retired retailer executive having served as Chairman and CEO of Fortunoff, Executive Vice President for J.C. Penney Co., and numerous other executive positions with other retailers such as Macy’s and Kmart. “Charlie had tons of experience, and he was kind enough to have lunch with us in New York,” said Liana. This was June 2014. She added, “We discussed our vision of the company and what we wanted to do. Charlie loved the idea, describing it as ‘brilliant’ but then asked us the gulp question, ‘Do you think that retailers are ready to sale their products next to each other in one marketplace?’ Charlie thought we were onto a great idea, but that perhaps the timing wasn’t there.”
“This made us pause and think,” said Filipe, “There were no ecommerce marketplaces doing what we wanted to do. I was certain it would happen, but maybe we were a little too early.”
The couple got married on July 25, 2015 in Ufa, Russia.
In the end, it was Amazon that helped them get the project off the ground. “Amazon just started eating up retail,” said Liana, “They boomed and ecommerce had a growth spurt. Retailers weren’t ready for that sudden consumer shift, and Amazon had an advantage. Retailers were financially impacted, and had to start thinking outside the box.”
“Yeah, when we started to see what was happening in the retail world, we knew our door was opening,” added Filipe, “I remember in the summer of 2016 sitting outside in my older-brother’s porch at his beach house in Algarve, Portugal, and showing him the concept slides. My brother had been very successful in business, was an entrepreneur, sold his businesses and retired at 40. So I was looking for his feedback,” said Filipe, “Thing is, he loved this idea and saw the business potential. From that point forward, almost every time we spoke on the phone, he would ask, ‘so when are we going to start that project?’ I knew I had my first investor.”
Filipe continued, “At that point, I didn’t know how to value the company for my brother to invest, so I asked a friend of mine who had previously invested in a dozen startups if he would stop by my house so I could get his opinion. He did. But after he saw my slideshow concepts of the project, he also wanted to invest. So, I had investor number two. Before I knew it, the investors all came in within a couple months.”
The project has been a success. Pedroso raised $350,000 in 2017 to develop an alpha of the software. The company was incorporated in New Jersey, and established its headquarters in Somerville. “We actually had the alpha under-budget. Giftapart has had a tremendous team of coders, and our software development leadership is very talented,” said Filipe.
A year later, the company raised an additional $500,000 from one of its initial investors, Jerry D’Ascoli. D’Ascoli said, “I believe in this project and I believe in Filipe. He’s a tremendously hardworking guy, very smart, and doesn’t know how to quit. I wanted in from the beginning. The idea is fantastic. The leadership is perfect. I had no doubt that Filipe could build it and he won’t quit until it’s a worldwide success.”
“We used those funds to take the project full steam ahead into public release. We now have a platform that is feature-rich available on any browser. We have also released beautiful apps for both iOS and Android. Giftapart has been getting fabulous feedback from our users, and we’re seeing very positive growth since the apps were released,” said Filipe.
“It’s very satisfying,” said Liana, “I got to see my original idea blossom into a beautiful, amazing platform. Filipe works 15 hour days, he’s totally obsessed with Giftapart. I joke that my husband is now married to Giftapart, but without his dedication there’s no way this company would be where it is today.”
Filipe stated: “It is my hope and goal that Giftapart will bring happiness to people and make their life better. Gift receivers can get their dream gift. Gift givers can gift knowing that they are truly making someone happy, while doing so effortlessly and quickly, saving all that time that goes into gift searching. It is this that makes all the hard-work payoff; the satisfaction of knowing I’m building something to improve people’s lives.”
“Giftapart is so much more,” exclaimed Liana, “Giftapart has also invented social ecommerce. We are the first company in the world to provide people a dedicated social feed linked to specific products. Instead of reading one-way reviews, many of which are fake anyway, at Giftapart users can engage in a dialogue with others about the product, chat with product users, share pictures and video, and even engage with the retailers. It’s a much more conversational approach to online shopping.”
“And our event planner is the best in the world,” added Liana, “It has all the features you need to inform, invite and manage guests. You can invite guests using email, text message, and even paper invitations. And your guests can RSVP directly from their email or text message without being fed a bunch of annoying ads. Plus the social feed dedicated to the event is awesome. You can chat with other guests and the host, making party planning easier and more enjoyable. You can share pictures and video too with everyone through the event feed. And, of course, you can link your gift lists made on Giftapart to your event for your guests’ easy finding, and gifting,” winks Liana.
The technologies invented by Filipe and Liana are currently patent-pending, domestically and internationally.
“Giftapart to me is a love story. It’s a part of our love story,” Filipe said referring to his relationship with his wife Liana. “It’s been a part of us for a long time,” he continues. “I hope that Giftapart can be a little bit about others’ love stories too. Gifting is a wonderful activity. And if Giftapart can help bring people together, make them closer through Giftapart’s social gifting process, and be happier, then that’s true success.”
“It’s been our motivation from day one,” Liana added, “We made the gift-a-part system to bring happiness to children who may not otherwise afford something; bring joy to a newly married couple by giving them a way to get those truly needed items; and just make everyone’s lives a bit better. That’s what it’s all about.”
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Giftapart is available on any browser as well as on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Links available at https://app.giftapart.com.
About Filipe & Liana
Filipe Pedroso, Co-founder and CEO of Giftapart, practiced law for 20 years and closed his two law offices to start Giftapart. He was born in Portugal, and immigrated to Bridgewater, New Jersey, in 1978. He received a BS in biochemistry from Rutgers University in 1992, and law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1996. Filipe serves since 1992 as a Councilman to the Bridgewater Township Council.
Liana Pedroso, Co-founder and Chief Administrative Officer, moved from Russia to New York in 2009 after receiving Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Public Relations from Bashkir University. She met Filipe one night in New York City on October 10, 2011. In 2012, Liana enrolled at New York University and graduated with her second Masters in Public Relations in 2014. She currently handles the public and media relations at Giftapart.
Giftapart Inc. has developed an innovative the world’s first social ecommerce marketplace and revolutionized gifting by creating a system where the user controls the order they get their gifts. The company was established in 2017 and is headquartered in Somerville, New Jersey. The company’s software systems and methods have resulted in the filing of numerous patents. Giftapart is led by award-winning attorney and 3-time elected Councilman Filipe Pedroso, Esq., Founder, CEO and Board Member, as well as its other Board members: Liana Pedroso (a public relations and corporate communications expert with international experience and Master’s Degrees in the field from both Bashkir and New York University); Jeffrey Vanderbeek (prior owner and Chairman of the NJ Devils NHL franchise and The Prudential Center; and former Managing Partner responsible for Capital Markets at Lehman Bros.); and Henrique Pedroso (a serial entrepreneur and law school graduate, grew and led his businesses with hundreds of employees from the ground-up into successful ventures).
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Company webpage: https://giftapart.com
For additional information contact:
Liana V. Pedroso, Chief Administrative Officer, Dir., Corp. Communications & Public Relations, Giftapart Inc., 892 US 22, 2nd Floor, Somerville, NJ 08876
(551) 202-8008 Extension 4077
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Above: Giftapart tutorial infographic, cover page.