Finnish gift-giving platform Finnay has barely been live a year, but the firm expects to conquer the German market soon. Founded in 2013, the company, whose app pairs time-starved consumers with local retailers, is already looking beyond its home city of Helsinki. But technology and marketing will depend on a new cash injection.
Finnay was founded when serial entrepreneur Riikka Lindström reflected on the ailing fortunes of Helsinki’s local businesses. First came a concept, then, soon after, the decision to create a gamefied app for gift-giving. Soon the company had 50 businesses signed up to its platform with help from the local municipality.
The app aims to tap into a not inconsiderable global gift-giving market worth $200 billion which, according to Finnay, is growing at 8% yearly. The company’s solution will, it says, satisfy two problems: first, that local businesses are being pushed out by multinationals – and secondly, that today’s increasingly on-the-go population cannot spare the time it take to find a unique gift.
Finnay’s Wayfinder app allows users to pick from a variety of artisanal items and have them gift-wrapped instore for a later pick-up. The platform also allows travelers to have gifts delivered to their hotel room via courier. It has amassed over 55 stores to date, 30,000 active users and two major hotel chains in Europe and California. Finnay takes a commission on each gift sold, which, it claims, makes the product easily scalable.
Choosing the next market for Finnay may have seemed a difficult task. Not for Lindström, who looked immediately at Germany – in particular Frankfurt, Europe’s economic heartland which 20 million people visit annually.
That business travel clientele is key, she adds. But so are tourists, “who are as interesting as businesspeople. It saves a lot of time for the person who’s traveling a lot and wants to remember a partner or family. It will take all the seeking cost away from that experience.” Berlin, too, is desirable to the firm – not least because it welcomed 12 million tourists last year, many of whom are young, connected consumers.
But that big push is requires more cash. Finnay’s software was initially made in just five months, “which is not usually the case.” And Lindström concedes that moving into new territory will require a lot of work. “It is unique, so there is no code existing, so we create from scratch,” she says. “When we go global and optimize, we need funding for that because it’s very expensive.
“There is a lot of work to go global,” adds Lindström, whose marketing has thus far been limited to Facebook and other social media channels. “There are people who can give us 200 companies at a time. It will get easier, and when we have the development in our software ready, it will be very easy for people to join our app.”
Finnay is currently seeking funds, to add to €263,000 ($298,000) that has arrived from seed, angel investment and loans from benefactors such as Finnvera and Tekes, the publicly-funded Finnish group that last year backed 660 local firms to the tune of €550 million ($624 million).
Lindström’s father plays the Santa in her local town, in the Finnish region of Lapland, so it would be fair, if fairly low-hanging fruit, to suggest that gift-giving is in her blood. And beyond the personal success that Finnay could bring, it is the survival of local shops and sellers that enthuses her most.
“We want to create a channel to make more sales for local sellers, so they can survive more,” she says. “That is the way we will have more life in the city, combining online and offline sellers, to keep tourism and these kinds of things more alive.”
If Finnay succeeds in scaling up soon, it could have a large impact on travel across the continent.