It is 2015, which means that there is an app for on-demand anything. With a few swipes and a credit card or PayPal account, you can summon a limo, your dry cleaning, booze, a masseuse, someone to fix your shattered iPhone, a snow plow. This is brutal, wondrous efficiency taken to its logical end.
The downside to this ultra-convenient approach is that the exchange becomes impersonal. Transactional. Which makes the unfortunate shorthand “Uber for X” difficult to translate to, say, giving someone a nice gift. Just ask 1-800-Flowers. Enter a new startup from one of the folks behind CardMunch, the business card-digitizing app that was acquired by LinkedIn for $3 million in 2011 and which employs an interesting work-around to make gift giving feel a litttttle more human. The new app is called Sweetness and it launches Tuesday in San Francisco, with more cities on the way.
The technology behind Sweetness is straightforward. Fire up the app on your phone, pick a sweet gift from one of five local bakeries spread throughout San Francisco (Tartine, Dandelion Chocolate, Cocola, etc.), and for $20, a box of cupcakes or macarons or whatever trendy dessert-thing you choose gets hand-delivered to your intended recipient. You just need their phone number—once your gift is scheduled, the recipient gets a text that asks them where they want their surprise delivered.
But the most interesting part about Sweetness isn’t the actual delivery. Postmates and a growing club of similar competitors already provide that. What makes Sweetness notable is that when the gift arrives, the recipient gets a short video text message from, well, you—thinking, feeling, mumbly-mouthed ol’ you—to go along with the pastries. Working in tandem, it lends Sweetness a surprisingly human touch.
“We feel like the integrity of the gifting process has shifted away from ‘thoughtful’ to ‘easy and not thoughtful,'” says cofounder Sid Viswanathan, who wanted to create a new delivery mechanism that felt a bit more sentimental than a $30 Amazon gift card. “We’re focussed on baked goods for launch but we definitely see a path where we expand to other thoughtful gift items.”
While Sweetness merely gives off the impression that you put a modicum of thought, time, and effort into your gift when you actually just pressed a few buttons, the video messaging component could be something that bridges the gap between the brutal efficiency of service-summoning apps and genuinely wanting to do something nice for another thinking, feeling, mumbly-mouthed ol’ human.