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Shaul Weisband of Jifiti

Meet Shaul Weisband, founder of Jifiti, a gifting platform for shoppers.
What is Jifiti?
Jifiti is a mobile gifting application that allows shoppers to scan and purchase a physical item in a store and instantly send it as a gift to a friend’s phone to be redeemed in any of the store’s locations in the U.S. What we really wanted to do was combine our in-store shopping experience with the online convenience, which has always been a battle between brick and mortar stores and online. We wanted to create a tool that merges the two. We realized an area that has that ability is the gifting area.
How did you come up with the idea?
What we were really looking to do was find the niche and synergy of the offline and online. Today, it’s the battle of red lasers and Amazons of the world taking out the brick and mortars. Brick and mortars are looking for a solution.
We all love walking through our local stores and mall. The experience of in-store is not going way. So we wanted to build a tool that enhanced that shopping experience, but also allowed the opportunity to start an online conversation to request a gift or send a gift using that technology.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
The challenges were definitely there, because we worked with retailers and working with them is a lot harder and a lot slower. The surprise has been to work through that pace with the retailers and seeing how quickly the technology advances with the retailers. But the ability to successfully get into the big retailers has been a bit of a surprise.
Where did you find your first employee?
Our first employees were tech guys in Israel. But since we relocated to Ohio, we brought in a few employees in marketing and social marketing here in Columbus.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
A typical day is really funny because of the hour difference with the development team in Israel. So we get up at 5am here and it’s noon in Israel. We get updates of all the tech stuff we’ve planned on for that week, making sure it’s getting done. We kind of have an open Skype machine, our portal to the development team. Then it’s really being able to foster relationships with retailers, making sure everything is in place and courting new retailers and initiatives. And marketing, whether it’s through PR or different social activities that we have. We’re also getting feedback from our users, so we can also upgrade and make sure we’re up to par with what our users like and don’t like.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
We’re in the retail space and Ohio is a big retail hub. People always ask why you don’t move to Silicon Valley for a startup, because that’s where you meet people. But this is where you meet people in retail. Also, the quality of life. I don’t have to spend 80-percent of my salary on rent. The resources we have here are fantastic. We’re right on the campus of OSU.
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?
First of all, interns. The students here are incredibly driven and are a great source of quality work. If we’re able to take 10 percent of the passion people here have for OSU football and convert that to technology and innovation, we’ll be able to take over Silicon Valley.
And also, just the networking. We’re in TechColumbus and the day-to-day business help they’re able to provide has been great.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
The one story that I’ll never forget was when I was demo’ing Jifiti for a Senior VP at Barnes and Noble. I pulled out the first book I found on the shelf, scanned it and sent it to him as a gift. Only after I shared the gift on my Facebook profile did friends tell me what 50 Shades of Grey was about. Oops.
What inspires you?
Building something from scratch. I absolutely love that. Seeing something every day that comes together. Taking an idea that started on a napkin and seeing it advertised in malls is incredible. I think we have a phenomenal, phenomenal team that’s able to solve problems and get along well.
What founders do you admire and why?
I would definitely say it’s the founders who have been able to take an idea while sitting alone in college and turn it into something real and that people love using.
What’s next for you?
Just continuing to build Jifiti and change the way we gift our loved ones. We literally haven’t scratched the tip of the iceberg. 

Interview by Joe Baur

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