Just one week after Wrapp received $5.5 million in a Series A round, we had the chance to interview its co-founder and CEO Hjalmar Winbladh. The new social gifting service Wrapp lets friends celebrate with free gifts of real value. The serial entrepreneur Hjalmar Winbladh lives in Stockholm and before Wrapp he co-founded Sendit and Rebtel. Enjoy the interview:
EU-Startups.com: When did you or your partners get the idea for Wrapp, and what made you sure it was the right one?
Hjalmar Winbladh: Early this year we started looking at what was going on in the world and the mega-trends impacting our daily lives. Smartphone penetration was exploding. Everybody was on Facebook – some 700 million of us worldwide. And the global economy was sucking wind, making life miserable for retailers. Then we found that one of the most popular items in the retail industry was a gift card. In the U.S. alone it’s worth more than $100 billion a year. But not much has happened with it during the past 50 years. Paper cards have turned into plastic cards, and that’s about it – and there is still a lot of friction in buying and giving them. So, it was clear there was room for real innovation. We put all those ingredients together, turned it up-side down and in-side out, and out came Wrapp – a business that disrupts the gift card market in a positive way – actually makes it larger – by making it social, digital and mobile.
EU-Startups.com: What makes Wrapp unique or better than other gift services out there?
Hjalmar Winbladh: A couple of years ago Facebook revolutionized the way we communicated and celebrate with friends and family, regardless of where they are in the world. Wrapp is first to make it just as easy and fun to send gifts of real value to your friends and family, as it is to say Hi, Thank You, or Happy Birthday on their wall.
EU-Startups.com: You just secured $5.5 million in a Series A round led by Atomico and stated that the funds will be used partly for international expansion. Could you give us a brief overview of your roadmap for the next 12 months?
Hjalmar Winbladh: We’re on track to introduce Wrapp in the U.K. and U.S. in the first quarter of 2012. After that, all bets are off. Europe? Asia? Africa? For now, the world is our oyster.
EU-Startups.com: Where would you like to see the Wrapp application and the Wrapp brand in three years?
Hjalmar Winbladh: From everyday Thank You’s to once-a-year events like Happy Birthdays, Christmas, etc. – we want to be the global standard for gift giving in our mobile, digital world.
EU-Startups.com: Wrapp consists of an impressive team of experienced co-founders, and you were able to attract some well-known investors. What is your secret of success? Could you provide our readers with some basic tips on how to attract great co-founders and investors?
Hjalmar Winbladh: For me, it always starts with the people, so you have to tap your network and pull the best and brightest. If you can put together the right team, with the right skills, thinking and work ethic, anything is possible. After that it’s product – and today, for me, to be fun and challenging it has to be mobile, social and global. Then, quite honestly, the hard work starts: crafting a business model that makes money from the get-go, securing the strategic partners you need to turbo-charge your offering. And last, but in no-way least of all, tuning, evolving, re-inventing that offer to make sure it is constantly delighting your customers so they tell all their friends how great it is.
EU-Startups.com: How many people are currently working for Wrapp and how do you support the corporate culture?
Hjalmar Winbladh: We’re 15 going on 17 going on 20. Right now we’re desperately seeking some super-star engineers to fill those positions. Our culture is pure start-up, which means it’s still being defined. We’re living the dream everyday. Come join us!
EU-Startups.com: What is you first impression about Wrapp’s market acceptance after your current launch in Sweden, and what kind of marketing strategies are you going to use in order to promote the social gifting service?
Hjalmar Winbladh: So far, so good. We started testing our service mid-September and in less than 90 days our retail partners were able to reach over a half of all Facebook users in Sweden. During that same time our retail partner network has more than trippled from the charter eight to nearly 25, and more cool brands are joining every day. And that means our users, which have been growing strong, now have more choices than ever of real gifts to give their Facebook friends and family. In terms of marketing, our efforts are purely social, as they should be, since we’re a social gifting service that makes giving gifts of real value as easy as writing Thank You or Happy Birthday on your friends’ walls.
EU-Startups.com: How is your experience with Stockholm as a location to start a company?
Hjalmar Winbladh: I’m a serial entrepreneur and Stockholm is my home, so I’m biased. For me, Stockholm has always been fertile ground. Wrapp is my fifth startup here: Pedal, Sendit, Rebtel, Epidemic Sound, and now Wrapp. All the companies before Wrapp have been great successes in their own rights and markets. In my opinion, Stockholm today is truly a world-class center of gravity for tech start-ups.