Huntsville engineer turned entrepreneur launches innovative gift-giving app

Huntsville engineer turned entrepreneur launches innovative gift-giving app
Presently offers artisan and handmade gifts that are chosen specifically based on someone’s individual style and taste.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - You've probably heard the age old cliche, "It's the thought that counts," but local engineer turned entrepreneur, Lee Todd just made the "thought" easier.

Todd, a software developer by trade, came up with the idea alongside a colleague of his two years ago when his co-worker needed to buy a Mother's Day gift. He went scrolling through the app store to find a gift-giving app to help him find the perfect present. Much to his surprise, there was nothing that provided conversation-worthy gifts. Most of the gift-giving apps he found were sourced by big-box retailers rather than local artists.

"What do you do as software engineers when you have an idea? You start building an app," said Todd.

The app would focus on delivering artisan and handmade gifts that were chosen specifically based on someone's individual style and taste.

Todd and his co-founder started developing the app in their spare time. "Originally, we began  building the app for our own personal use. In the beginning, we wanted the app to do two things: notify us of birthdays and special occasions, and allow us to order a thoughtful gift within a matter of minutes," said Todd.

They began working diligently to develop the software and connect with nearby artisans to source their collection of local and handmade gifts.

"The most interesting and exciting part of this journey has been connecting with local artists. We've invested an immense amount of time to ensure their offerings aligned with the vision we had for Presently - which was to offer a personalized gifting option that provided the perfect recommendation every time. Being surrounded by amazing artists in Huntsville, naturally our search began at Lowe Mill; just within a few months, our vendor relationships  expanded nationwide," said Todd.

"Each of our artists have such a unique story and background. For example, Rosa Murillo (of Muro Jewelry) partners with her husband (a former Chemical Engineer) and crafts one-of-a-kind jewelry out of materials that you don't typically find in stores. She focuses on using sustainable, reclaimed, eco-friendly and recyclable elements, combined with engineering treatments to offer an entire line of very affordable - yet absolutely beautiful - pieces that are unlike anything you'll find in stores. Another artist is Sara Bowen. She grew up making pottery in Monroeville, Alabama, and after graduating with an art history degree, she decided to pursue pottery as a career. The stories are endless," said Todd.

How does it work?

A big focus of Presently was to ensure the user experience was seamless, simple and easy-to-use.

"We pride ourselves in creating a shopping experience that lasts about the same time it takes to order a cup of coffee," said Todd.

Users can download the Presently app from the Apple App store, where they're asked to  create an account. Users will then be prompted to 'Add Someone', which creates a profile specific to that person's style, likes, dislikes, and hobbies. The questionnaire includes questions like:  What does he or she like to do in their free time? Does he or she like to cook? What scents does he or she like? Using a custom algorithm, Presently suggests three unique gifts, eliminating the hassle out of tying to find the perfect gift. In addition to providing personalized options, Presently also presents those options in three pricing tiers to fit your budget. Once you decide on a gift, you can purchase it directly with Apple Pay, or by using any major credit card.

Shipping is included in the cost, and if by chance an item needs to be returned, you simply follow the no-muss, no-fuss Apple Pay return policy, no questions asked.

How many users has Presently gifted?

The app is just phasing out of it's beta-testing and just launched its official campaign to those seeking thoughtful gifts. As feedback is provided and users choose gifts, Presently will continue to develop new features and source new gifts.

What's next for the gift-giving guru?

"Our next phase of features includes the option to purchase gifts for yourself, as well make an 'instant purchase' vs waiting for a special occasion to arrive. We want to provide an all-inclusive approach to gift-giving, and enable flexibility to our users to purchase gifts whenever they want," said Todd.

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