Afloat Takes Flight: On-Demand Gifting Startup Goes Nationwide

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Afloat: Riding the Wave of Local Gifting

Afloat, a gift delivery app that empowers shoppers to support local businesses while sending thoughtful presents on the same day, is now available nationwide. This innovative startup has transformed the way we celebrate life’s milestones and offer support to loved ones, regardless of physical distance.

From Personal Need to Business Vision

Afloat’s journey began with founder Sarah-Allen Preston’s desire to simplify gift-giving at a challenging time. While navigating the stress of her newborn undergoing open heart surgery, she found solace in the thoughtful gifts she received. This experience sparked a vision: to create a platform that allows everyone to experience the joy of convenient, same-day gift delivery, especially during life’s pivotal moments.

When I looked back on that experience, though, I weirdly didn’t remember the stress and the heartache. All I remembered was how people showed up for me and how cared and supported I felt… So, I took that feeling and went on to amplify this in the world through technology,” Preston shared with TechCrunch.

Bridging the Gap Between Local and Online

Afloat leverages technology to bridge the gap between the convenience of online shopping and the value of supporting local businesses. “Afloat aims to provide the convenience of online shopping and instant delivery while also supporting local businesses without leaving your home,” Preston explains.

The platform handles every aspect of gift-giving, from selecting the perfect present to gift wrapping and adding a handwritten note. This personal touch sets Afloat apart from traditional online retailers, where impersonal receipts often overshadow the gesture of giving. DoorDash drivers take care of the final step, ensuring swift and reliable delivery.

Capitalizing on a Growing Trend

The shift towards supporting local businesses, a trend that gained momentum during the pandemic, continues to resonate with consumers. According to a survey by Intuit, 62% of respondents expressed a preference for buying from small businesses in their communities. This sentiment has fueled the growth of platforms like Etsy, which recently launched a gift mode feature powered by AI, showcasing curated gift guides from independent shop owners.

Afloat’s Impact on Local Businesses

The app currently collaborates with 100 store partners, encompassing a diverse range of retailers, including:

  • Bakeries
  • Baby stores
  • Bookstores
  • Florists
  • Traditional gift stores
  • Jewelry stores

Afloat has proven to be a boon for these local businesses, helping them increase their gifting revenue by 30-50%. The platform serves as an extension of their reach, enabling them to tap into new markets and customer demographics without the need for significant infrastructure investments.

Expanding Horizons with a SaaS Model

Afloat has recently transitioned to a SaaS (Software as a Service) model, allowing more businesses to join the platform and access its suite of services. The company offers subscription plans—Gold ($99/month) and Platinum ($299/month)—that provide store partners with valuable resources, including:

  • Marketing and merchandising support
  • Sales data and analytics
  • Streamlined order management
  • Automated order fulfillment

This shift signifies Afloat’s ambition to become a comprehensive solution for local businesses seeking to enhance their online presence and capitalize on the growing demand for convenient, personalized gifting.

"We don’t have to hard launch markets anymore, which is really exciting… We are going to be able to be SaaS anywhere, everywhere,” Preston shared, highlighting the platform’s expansive reach and evolving business strategy.

Unlocking a Premium Gifting Experience for Consumers

Afloat is also developing a consumer subscription tier, providing users with premium features, such as:

  • Scheduled deliveries
  • Real-time notifications about new gift offerings
  • Access to exclusive discounts and promotions

These features elevate the user experience, extending Afloat’s value proposition beyond simply facilitating quick gift delivery. The app allows users to plan ahead, stay on top of the latest trends, and enjoy greater control over their gifting journey.

Afloat’s Growth and Impact

With over 30,000 users and $5M in funding, Afloat is actively shaping the future of gifting. The company’s success is fueled by a commitment to:

  • Supporting local businesses
  • Empowering consumers with convenient, personalized, and same-day gift delivery
  • Delivering a seamless and delightful gifting experience

Afloat is not just another app; it’s a platform that fosters connection, strengthens local communities, and underscores the power of thoughtful gestures. As the startup continues to expand its reach and evolve its offerings, it stands poised to become a dominant force in the rapidly evolving landscape of online gifting.

Article Reference

Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson is a tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the industry. She has a knack for identifying the next big thing in startups and has reviewed countless internet products. Emily's deep insights and thorough analysis make her a trusted voice in the tech news arena.