UNH grads' startup eyes Boston via crowdfunding

Regaalo, the social gifting e-commerce company run by four recent graduates of the University of New Hampshire, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to finance its expansion into Boston.

The startup, which makes its home in the New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center, provides an online platform for parents to connect with students when they are away from home.Parents can log into the Regaalo website, purchase gifts for their students at local merchants, and a voucher code for the gifts is sent directly to the student's cellphone. So say it's finals week, a student can go to a local pizzeria and pick up a pie with his or her iPhone that a parent has graciously purchased.

Regaalo takes a percentage of the spend and gives the rest to the participating merchant.

While founded on that idea, the company has also diversified into offering customizable gift baskets for students."The text-messaging gift gives us our edge, it's what makes us unique," said Jessica Streitmater, a Litchfield native and one of the student co-founders of the site. "There are quite a bit of people that do care packages, but we do have an edge on that too because we make it customizable."

Right now the company only works with UNH and surrounding Seacoast merchants, but the crowdfunding campaign aims to raise $5,000 by June 30 to support its move into Boston in partnership with Boston University and Northeastern University.

Launched through crowdfunding website IndieGoGo, the campaign offers various perks at funding levels ranging from $25 to $800, including a Regaalo water bottle, mentions through the company's social media channels, care packages, inclusion of company marketing collateral in Boston area care packages, and an in-house Regaalo party.The funds will be used to hire interns to promote the website in the Boston market.

They decided to try crowdfunding because "we have a lot of people who are really interested in the company and who would love to help us," said Streitmater. "They ask, 'How can I help?' And we really needed the help… to get to Boston."

Regaalo is a derivation of the Spanish word for gift, "regalo," with an extra "a" added because the original word's domain name was already taken.

The company came in second place in the 2011 Holloway Prize Competition at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at UNH.

"I think what makes me most proud of the company is that we're four UNH alumni that ended up putting together a successful company a year after we graduated," said Streitmater.

For more information, visit regaalo.com/crowdfunding.

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