Forgotten a loved one’s birthday or need to send a pick-me-up to a mate? Prsnt says it has the answer: the London-based startup, which has just launched a £3m funding round, has ambitious plans for its gifting app. “We want to be the automatic choice for people giving presents in the future,” says co-founder and CEO Omid Moallemi. “We’ll be on the first screen of your smartphone.”
The idea is a deceptively simple one. Prsnt has built partnerships with more than 100 household brands – everyone from Starbucks to Marks & Spencer. If you want to send someone a present from one of those brands, you open the Prsnt app, choose your gift and press send. The recipient receives the gift instantly, in the form of a QR code they can cash in to get the gift, either online or in person. It might be anything from a cup of coffee to a new t-shirt.
“Every time we explain the idea to someone, they say there must be an app that already does this, but there isn’t,” adds Moallemi. Part of the appeal is that Prsnt’s partnerships mean you can choose your gift from a wide (and growing) pool of retailers, all in one place; other brands on the app include Amazon, Asos, All Bar One, Spotify, Deliveroo, Uber, Costa Coffee, Nike, Sports Direct and The Body Shop. In addition, Prsnt has created an all-round gifting experience: for example, you can send a video alongside the gift, and recipients get to unwrap their presents with a slide of their finger across their phone screens.
Moallemi is convinced that Prsnt taps into the way we live our lives today. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, many people were living more remote lives, often interacting with friends and family through digital channels rather than in person. “Prsnt fulfils the momentary need to celebrate with somebody you don’t get to see as often as you would like,” argues. “You don’t want to just send someone a WhatsApp or a text message – it feels underwhelming. It doesn’t in any way represent or reflect the way you feel about them. With Prsnt, you can send them a little something instead – something a bit more thoughtful.
The app has gained traction quickly. Moallemi and his four co-founders – David Parr, Hamish Page, Louis Wren and Dan Hamilton – launched a beta version of the app last December, initially focused on friends and family. They saw hundreds of users sign up on the first evening, with thousands more joining over the months to come.