5 Questions With Sociagram President Sally Babcock Schriner

Rocky River startup Sociagram is poised to hit big with GiftGram, a program that allows users to record “super-awesome” personal video messages that are timed to arrive the moment a gift is delivered to their loved one’s door.

GiftGram can be accessed through a web-interface, downloaded as an iPhone or Android app or even installed as a Google Chrome extension. It’s free to try through the 2014 holiday season and has already made a splash with local celebrity chef Michael Symon, who recently tweeted some love to the company after receiving a personalized GiftGram message for his birthday.

In the midst of a very busy holiday rush, Sociagram President Sally Babcock Schriner sat down with JumpStart to answer a few questions about becoming the public face of an early-stage tech startup, the business logic behind GiftGram and the future of Sociagram.

How did you get involved with Sociagram?

I originally connected with Ryan O’Donnell and Marco DiDomenico (Sociagram’s founders) through JumpStart’s Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program.

After I left American Greetings in 2013, I spent a lot of time advising entrepreneurs. I worked with the folks behind Prezto and Snapbatch, and eventually began working with Sociagram as well.

Everything just happened at the right time. Ryan and Marco had sort of hit the wall with their existing strategy at a time when I was looking to join a young tech startup. I just felt very strongly that the company had big potential, so I took the mentoring relationship to the next level and decided to come onboard as company president.

Where does GiftGram fit into this picture? How is it different from what Sociagram was doing before you joined?

When I first met the founders, Sociagram was pursuing a strictly B2B strategy. The goal was to persuade retailers to adopt our technology and integrate it into their online shopping experience.

They were finding that retailers were interested, but reluctant to be the first one to try the technology. They wanted to see someone else prove the concept before they agreed to a relationship.

The idea behind GiftGram is to take this technology directly to consumers. I felt like it was great technology with a lot of potential. Why not just get it out there in front of consumers and let them decide?

What is the ideal use of GiftGram in your opinion?

It’s very versatile technology. Obviously it’s a wonderful way to combine a personalized video message with a personalized gift, but it’s not just for the gift-giver. It’s also a great way to say thank you.

Think of a new mother who needs to send thank you messages to everyone who gave her gifts, but may not have the time to sit down, write out dozens of messages and then mail them. With GiftGram she doesn’t need a stamp, or the home addresses of the people who gave her the gifts. As long as she has an email address or a cell phone number, she can send personalized video thank you messages very easily.

What does GiftGram do that existing technology doesn’t? Can’t I just send a text with a video recording and accomplish the same thing?

What makes GiftGram truly innovative is our patent pending technology that syncs the delivery of a personalized video with the delivery of a gift package. That’s something you just can’t do with a text message and it is a big part of the draw.

On a different level, I think GiftGram’s ease of use and presentation can also help popularize the idea of sending a personalized video message amongst people who may not have thought to do so before.

This is an important point, because certainly there are other ways to share videos just like there were other ways to share photos before Instagram. What we are trying to do with GiftGram is create a fun, intuitive process while delivering an end product that looks and feels like an actual greeting card, not just a text message or a run-of-the-mill smartphone video. Combine this presentation with the fact that we can sync the messages to arrive alongside gift packages, and I think we have a great platform.

What does the future hold for Sociagram?

In terms of monetization, retail outlets have never stopped expressing interest in Sociagram’s technology, so in the long-term we still have very high hopes for the B2B side of the business. But for now, we are very excited to be bringing GiftGram directly to consumers. We’re even looking at adding new functionality very soon that allows consumers to purchase third-party retail gift cards right through Giftgram and send them alongside their video messages.

Overall, we are very excited to see what 2015 has in store.