‣ Company: Givingli Inc.
‣ Founders: Nicole Emrani Green and Ben Green
‣ Mission: To bring human connection to a digital platform
‣ App launched: 2019
‣ Team size: 10
‣ Go-to emoji: 👀
Givingli offers virtual greeting cards for birthdays, anniversaries, and all of life’s grandest occasions. But according to the app’s founders (and husband-and-wife team) Ben Green and Nicole Emrani Green, its most popular cards tend to fall under “miscellaneous.”
“To our surprise, it’s the in-between moments—the ‘I miss yous’ or the ‘I’m sorrys’—that people most often send cards for,” says Ben.
Whether your occasion is big or small, Givingli is a way to share a sentiment with that special someone. (It works for presents too: You can attach virtual gift cards and credits redeemable for physical gifts.)
Ultimately, it’s about the timeless joy of sending and receiving. “Nicole and I always say, ‘What’s the thing you keep in a shoebox under your bed?’ It’s not the gift card. It’s the message that someone wrote. That’s what we’re trying to lean into,” Ben says.
We caught up with the Greens to talk about work-life balance, getting into the weeds, and date nights.
What inspired you to start Givingli?
Nicole: We met while we were both in grad school in San Francisco—I was studying to become a psychotherapist, and Ben was in law school. We didn’t work in tech, but we were in a city surrounded by innovation which was inspiring, and we were always innovating together. We thought, “Maybe we’ll run an app on the side for fun.” It took off, and now we’re building a whole company off of it.
What about Givingli gets you excited?
Ben: Every day, thousands of people connect through our platform in very intimate and real ways. That’s a pretty big motivator.
Nicole: Being able to work with creators and artists to amplify their work, all while supporting genuine human connection on digital platforms.
As married cofounders, how do you find work-life balance?
Nicole: Because of my therapist background, I’ve always been aware of the need for that. Every morning we wake up two hours before our workday to exercise, read, meditate, and do yoga. If we talk about Givingli on a date night, it’s because it’s our passion and we genuinely want to talk about it. If we get into numbers or details, we wait until Monday. But if it’s vision and innovation, that can consume a date night easily.
Every day, thousands of people connect through our platform in very intimate and real ways. That’s a pretty big motivator.
—Ben Green, Givingli cofounder
Do you send cards to each other?
Ben: We do! Sometimes it’s to make sure new features are working. But we’ll also just send love notes or Givinglis that say, “Can you do the dishes?”
Nicole: Ben sent me one recently that said, “Have yourself a good day. Love you.” Even though I know what it’s like to send and receive a Givingli, I’m still surprised by the experience.
What lessons does your story have for people who take unconventional paths to tech?
Nicole: You have to be willing to get into the weeds. Don’t just say, “I’ll hire someone to do the work for me and give them my big vision.” I taught myself design. I taught myself how to manage a team. Ben has taught himself how to do so many things that he didn’t do when he was an attorney. Being respectful of the industry is very important—but you don’t have to have that background either.
Ben: The only things you have to have are curiosity and a willingness to learn. You’ll figure it out.
Givingli Inc. is a part of the App Store Small Business Program. If you are a developer and would like to learn more about the program, follow the link below.