Start-up spotlight: Gifting on the go with Karma


There are lots of online tools to help you send someone a virtual gift. But San Francisco start-up Karma knows you’d rather get the real thing.

The company, which officially launched Tuesday, aims to make it quick and convenient to send someone a personal gift from a mobile device.

With the company’s free iPhone or Android app, users can gift shop from Karma’s selection of offerings, which include Magnolia cupcakes, bottles of champagne and Moleskine journals. Other companies that have signed on include Kate Spade, Gund and


Gift receivers are notified of their presents via text, email or Facebook and input the address where they’d like the gift shipped to. They have control over the specifics of their gift, such as choosing which flavor cupcake they’d like to receive. Don’t like the gift? Swap it for something else or donate it to charity directly through Karma.

“What we’re trying to do here is get rid of that ugly-sweater problem,” co-founder and CEO Lee Linden said. “It cuts down on the waste of gifting.”

Like many start-ups, Karma was conceptualized after its founders were faced with a recurring problem -- in this case, routinely forgetting to send family and friends gifts.

“We found ourselves relegated to a Facebook post or making a note to buy them a card at CVS and then we’d forget,” Linden said in an interview. “We’d feel really terrible about that.”

Karma takes a commission from every transaction. The company has about 20 employees and received funding from angel investors and firms including Sequoia Capital.



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