Let’s do a quick startup name etymology with Lily&Strum. “Lily” comes from the beautiful lilies that Traci Lipple would receive from her co-founder and husband Joe as a “just because” gift. The “Strum” is an homage to Joe Strummer, the musician who inspired their attitude and thinking towards relationships.
When you combine the two into “Lily&Strum,” you get more than a simple startup name; it actually invokes the nature of a relationship. Two different elements from two different backgrounds come together to make one.
Being inspired by relationships, Lily&Strum works to make other relationships awesome by helping everybody give the best gifts they can. Timely reminders, great recommendations, and delivery methods let gift givers enjoy what really matters: the moment.
Initially branded “Thoughtful Husband,” Lipple set out to solve three crucial areas associated with gift giving problems. To her, gift givers lacked organization, support, and inspiration.
At first the platform focused mainly on busy men, helping them be thoughtful without having to think about it. Thoughtful Husband won Pittsburgh Startup Weekend in October 2012, but they re-branded to Lily&Strum after deciding to expand the range of their platform.
The name may have changed, but the notion that gift givers lack organization, support, and inspiration did not. To that end, instead of just catering to busy men, Lily&Strum now caters to any busy person.
Along the way they had a bit of help from Thinktiv, the venture-accelerator firm. By elevating their brand, building strategic plans, and finalizing investor pitches, Lily&Strum was able to shift its focus toward raising money, building a team, and putting effort into product specifications.
Since the market space is already filled with other reminder services and recommendation tools, this was a crucial step. To avoid being the same as everybody else, Lily&Strum decided that developing a simple interface and a seamless UX was absolutely necessary.
The design took a lot of time and iterations, and the backend administration tools for gift selection, recommendation, and curation required a lot of forethought. But for the success of their broad-scale app, they made it work.
“The market has validated our unique concept over and over,” says Lipple.
To get their product out in that market, Lily&Strum employs search engine, social media, and print marketing. To date – and this is a trend we see amongst a lot of startups – their best method of marketing has been word of mouth recommendations; for them, that’s the biggest win.
Lily&Strum recently held a successful alpha program, and the team is steadily working toward a beta launch in early 2014. Lipple informs me that we can expect to see the platform grow, but no matter what, there will remain one constant: the ampersand will always be shaped like a heart.
Lily&Strum was featured at Tech Cocktail's Pittsburgh Mixer & Startup Showcase on October 11th.