eGifter closes $3.5M angel investment, adds Italy deal

eGifter CEO Tyler Roye will join three other presenters at the new LISTnet program.

eGifter, the Huntington-based digital gifting platform, has closed on a $3.5 million investment round and announced a partnership that will expand the brand in Europe.

The funding comes from the Long Island Angel Network, BDS Capital, Angel Dough Ventures, 94Bits and “several angel investors,” according to the company. The latest round, which pushes the startup’s total funding above $6 million, will help eGifter accelerate its growth by adding R&D, sales and marketing staffers, according to CEO Tyler Roye.

The investment follows a series of Software as a Service deals, through which eGifter has added its technology to the websites of major U.S. brands including Pottery Barn, Applebee’s and American Eagle Outfitters, and with several more big names expected in the next several weeks.

“There’s plenty, but they will be announced on the brands’ schedules,” Roye told Innovate LI. “Over the summer, you’ll see some pretty notable ones go live.”

The just-announced partnership is with Amilon, the largest provider of digital vouchers and e-codes in Italy, and includes the launch of Giftiamo, a mobile and social gifting platform for Italian consumers and retailers powered by eGifter technology. Giftiamo loosely translates to “Let’s gift.”

Like the eGifter website and mobile apps, Giftiamo offers purchasing opportunities, digital gift-card management, personalization tools — including animated e-cards and video messages — and a host of group-gifting options. Italian consumers can choose from over 40 retail brands through the Giftiamo platform.

“We chose eGifter because they had the most robust platform available,” Amilon President Andrea Verri said in a written statement. “That platform enables Giftiamo to offer the most advanced personalization features available in any gifting site in Europe.”

And that, according to Roye, is the most fulfilling part of the deal: The acknowledgement that eGifter  – which launched in 2012 as a product-centric e-gifting solution with a product feed from a single retail partner – leads the pack in a nation where gift cards is a $125 billion industry and climbing.

“Businesses around the world assess the U.S. market and find there are only a handful of mobile apps doing a good job with mobile gift cards,” Roye said. “We wind up on a very short list. Of that $125 billion, a small fraction – maybe 10 percent – is digital, but digital is growing fast,” he added. “Many retailers (around the world) are cutting straight to digital. So now, when they look at the United States, they’re looking for the company with the most notable digital gift card business.”

Beyond the angel funding, Roye said his firm expects to close soon on a round being negotiated with institutional venture capitalists that will dwarf the $3.5 million announced this week.

“We’re looking at a round that will really help us realize the potential of the business,” he said. “It will be considerably larger than our previous angel round, and we’re certainly looking to close a deal during 2015.”

He also expects additional partnerships.

“We have inquiries and conversations brewing everywhere,” he said. “Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, South America … people (are) looking into the digital gift-card space and realizing we’re the best opportunity to create business.”

“We are very close in some regions,” he said. “I expect we’ll make some big announcements over the summer.”