GetGifted has sent out its last gift list.

The Charlottetown startup that helped local merchants reward customers by giving them gifts announced on social media Tuesday that it would cease operations.

CEO and co-founder Gillian McCrae said in an interview that merchants were still using the weekly gift lists. However, she and her team came to understand the resources needed to roll out the product nationally or internationally and realized they simply didn’t have them.

“It was a very hard decision,” said McCrae.

“There has to be a way to (use merchants’ gifts as a marketing tool) at a scalable level, and right now we just don’t have the means to do that. To take it nationally or internationally, there’s just far more that you have to do.”

GetGifted began two years ago as a marketing idea. McCrae’s business hypothesis was that if merchants, including bars and restaurants, offered consumers a gift, such as a free sample, customers would come to the outlet and end up spending more than the value of the gift.

Then McCrae validated that theory. She launched GetGifted, which sent out a list of gifts from participating local merchants every Tuesday. Consumers received the lists on their smartphones and simply had to show up at the establishment to claim it within two weeks.

The gift list became a sensation on Prince Edward Island. About 13,000 Islanders eventually signed up for the gift list, claiming 1,500 to 2,500 gifts per week.

About a year ago, GetGifted launched its service in Halifax, and at its peak there were 8,000 subscribers.

Along the way, the team achieved various milestones that some young companies only dream of. GetGifted graduated from the Launch36 accelerator and was really one of the stars of a strong cohort in late 2013. It raised $400,000 in angel funding in the spring of 2014.

McCrae had been planning on expanding and testing her model in a big city. As recently as last autumn, she’d been planning to launch in Toronto in early 2015. Then the company encountered some difficulties.

She said she had to look “at the business model and the traction today and ask the hard questions about what the path to future success is.”

Though GetGifted is no more, McCrae said marketing continues to be a passion for her and that she will probably launch a new venture at some point. GetGifted proved an effective tool because it allowed local merchants to measure in-store traffic that resulted from their marketing spending. What she would like to come up with is a tool that can measure increased revenue based on such spending.

She added that working in the startup community and her experiences at Launch36 were revelations because they taught her that entrepreneurs can build anything they can dream of.

“What’s next? After today, my heart’s still in it for the local business owner,” she said. “Marketing is a love of mine, so that will continue. I think there will be another venture.”



Entrevestor receives financial support from government agencies that support start-up companies in Atlantic Canada. The sponsoring agencies play no role in determining which companies are featured in this column nor do they have the right to review columns before they are published.