Meet the garage start-up that powers some of the world’s biggest brands

Modi’in-based Jifiti allows recipients to change their present before it arrives.

IN JIFITI’S MODI’IN office are (from left) chief technology officer Meir Dudai, CEO Yaacov Martin and chief marketing officer Shaul Weisband. (photo credit: Courtesy)
IN JIFITI’S MODI’IN office are (from left) chief technology officer Meir Dudai, CEO Yaacov Martin and chief marketing officer Shaul Weisband.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
With the onset of the holiday season in North America, a small Modi’in-based team of Israelis called Jifiti solves the gifting needs of the largest retailers with their online platforms and powers some of the world’s most famous brands.
“Gifting is inherently different to any other type of commerce, the process we go through when purchasing something in-store or online for yourself is completely different to when you need to purchase a gift,” Jifiti founder and CEO Yaacov M. Martin told The Jerusalem Post in an interview recently. “What we found was that many of the largest brands who offer giftable items actually don’t cater to some of the most basic needs gifters have when setting to buy a gift.”
Jifiti was launched in 2011 with an idea to solve the challenges of gift-giving and revolutionize the online process.
The company developed a platform that lets users send presents from top brands and allows the recipient to choose how, when and where to get the item as well as an option to further customize their present.
According to Martin, some of these previously unaddressed challenges for gift-givers include not knowing what a recipient already has, knowledge gaps about likes and dislikes and, in the case of fashion articles, not knowing measurements. In the US, almost 30% of gifts are returned by the recipient to the retailer.
“Most times, especially if you are sending the gift, you don’t even know the shipping address of some of the closest people to you,” he said. “All these knowledge gaps result in the fact that more than 50% of the gifts purchased in the United States are never even used.”
“A gift giver is able to choose an item from any one of the brands we work with, pay for it and send it over digitally to the recipient,” Martin said.
“The recipient is then able to digitally “unwrap” it and read his personalized message. But before it is actually sent to them they are able to either make modifications to the gift or even switch it up altogether and redeem something else entirely.”
Jifiti has created multiple platforms and launched with multiple retailers that were seeking to solve these gifting barriers, especially in and around the holiday season.
The start-up works in partnership with the largest online invitation platform in the US, Evite, and the second-largest US greeting-card company, American Greetings. Jifiti also powers the online gift-registry platform for IKEA in the US and Canada. On Jifiti’s Marketplace platform, users can browse through close to 100 brands, including Barnes & Noble, GAP, Sephora and GameStop.
“Our revenues for 2016 are going to be just below US$10 million, but the trajectory has been really quite impressive,” Martin told the Post. “They already signed agreements for 2017 are going to allow for those numbers to grow by an expected 400%.”
Jifiti has just over 20 employees, all working out of a relatively small space in Modi’in.
“Our boys and girls in Modi’in are really hard working, and the notion of a small start-up working with a traditional mega company actually appeals to some of our clients,” Martin said. “They see that while things take years and years to accomplish in the traditional world, working out of fancy buildings, here we just sit for a week working around the clock and are ready to launch two weeks later.”
Now, Jifiti can tick off another accomplishment as the company entered a partnership with American multinational confectionery, food and beverage giant Mondelez International, right in time to launch a gifting platform for the Christmas season. Mondelez, which owns brands including Oreo, Toblerone and Cadbury, launched a direct-to-consumer platform pilot for its Oreo brand last Thursday. The pilot is part of the company’s e-commerce strategy, which aims at growing revenues to at least $1 billion by 2020.
“With us, Mondelez, which usually only works through retailers, now will have a direct-to-consumer line,” Martin said. “Moreover, such a large company has been able to work at start-up speed; this is a very exciting new partnership for us.”
According to Neil Ackerman, global director of e-commerce and supply chain at Mondelez, Jifiti took the Oreo platform fully online within only 45 days.
“Jifiti has the fire to win, and it is obvious from their super-cool start-up office environment to their ‘We can do it’ attitude that they will be a long-term strategic partner for us,” he told the Post. “They took a complex global brand like Oreo and made it come alive with their software.”
Before signing the deal, Ackerman visited Israel to perform due diligence and to inspect the small team working from a suburb not known to most international executives. He was more than impressed, not only with the company but also with the ecosystem in which Jifiti operates.
“It is invigorating to see all of the amazing ideas that come out of this small and mighty country,” Ackerman said. “We hope to find more gems like Jifiti within the Israeli community.”