Launching an Independent Gift Card Startup in Maryland – The Towerlight
By: Gabe Donahue, Associate Editor
Photo courtesy of Giverrang
Connecticut startup Giverrang, an independent gift card program dedicated to supporting local businesses, expanded to 100 Maryland communities on April 11.
The company creates hyperlocal gift cards that can only be spent at independent businesses located in specific geographies. The Maryland expansion will encourage cardholders to make small purchases in places like Baltimore, Ellicott City, Bel Air, and more. Gift cards can only be used in the region affiliated with the card.
Co-founder and head of programs Mark Walerysiak Jr. explains a resulting “cross-pollination effect”: when shoppers are confined to a specific category of stores in an area, they are forced to explore their options. They can find their favorite new store, restaurant or brasserie, which turns into a recommendation that gets more attention on the local scene.
Interacting with community vendors is precisely what Giverrang is all about.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to get… someone’s tail through the door. [of a small business]said Walerysiak.
Walerysiak works alongside Roy Paterson, product manager and co-founder of Giverrang. Paterson is in charge of technology development. Although working with Walerysiak around the world in the UK, Paterson shares the same values as his partner.
Walerysiak’s desire to increase support for small businesses began about a decade ago when he worked for a “downtown revitalization project” in Bristol, CT. The experience taught him the economics of local business and how beneficial it is for a community to have a thriving network of moms and dads.
The Giverrang site insists on the importance of spending locally: “every dollar is an investment in the local economy”.
When money is given to small businesses rather than mega-corporations, families are supported, tax revenues increase and community services are strengthened.
Multinational chains have advantageous resources that make it difficult for local businesses to compete, but Giverrang hopes to change that. Their manifesto states that Giverrang’s mission is to help “level the playing field against corporate chains and online giants” to enable small businesses to thrive.
Business owners treat purchases made with Giverrang cards as they would any other prepaid gift card. Despite the restrictions buyers face in deciding where to spend their balance, the actual use of the card amounts to using the credit if spent in an acceptable location.
Giverrang’s plan for the future is to continue to expand to more communities and continue to support small businesses.
“We’re interested in hearing from any Main Street group or chamber municipality that would like a map,” Walerysiak said.
Community members can purchase a Giverrang card, request one for their region, or sign up to become an affiliate.