Gifting on-demand startup Afloat goes nationwide

Afloat, a gift delivery app that lets you shop from local stores and have gifts delivered to a loved one on the same day, is now available across the U.S. The startup announced on Monday that it is rolling out its service nationwide after previously only being available in select cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, Charleston, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Nashville, and Wichita, among others.

The startup was founded by Sarah-Allen Preston after she experienced the stress of her newborn undergoing open heart surgery. After receiving thoughtful gifts from loved ones, Preston wanted to make immediate gift-giving possible for everyone, including those who live in another state, to support their loved ones in a time of need. 

“When I looked back on that experience, though, I weirdly didn’t remember the stress and the heartache. All I remembered was how people showed up for me and how cared and supported I felt… So, I took that feeling and went on to amplify this in the world through technology,” she told TechCrunch. 

Afloat aims to provide the convenience of online shopping and instant delivery while also supporting local businesses without leaving your home. Afloat takes care of the entire gift-giving process, including gift wrapping and adding a handwritten note for an extra personal touch. (Preston mentioned that this is more thoughtful than receiving a typed Amazon receipt.) As for the delivery part, DoorDash drivers take care of that. 


After the pandemic, many customers realized how much they appreciated their local shops. Nearly 40% of small businesses had to shut down during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2021. That desire to shop at small businesses continues to stay strong. According to a recent survey by Intuit, 62% of participants said they want to buy from small businesses in their community. E-commerce giants are also capitalizing on this mindset, as demonstrated by Etsy’s new gifting initiative, which features curated gift guides that highlight independent shop owners.

Afloat platform

The app currently works with 100 store partners, ranging from bakeries and baby stores to bookstores, florists, traditional gift stores, jewelry stores, and so on. According to the company, it has helped its store partners expand their gifting revenue by 30-50%. 

The company has also now shifted to a SaaS (software as a service) model to allow more stores to join the platform, including other types of businesses, like spas and similar businesses. Afloat will offer subscription plans at $99/month (Gold) and $299/month (Platinum), which includes a newly launched dashboard that provides stores with marketing and merchandising support, as well as sales data, and other useful features. 

“We don’t have to hard launch markets anymore, which is really exciting… We are going to be able to be SaaS anywhere, everywhere,” Preston said. 

Additionally, the company is in the process of building a subscription tier for consumers, which will allow them to access premium features like scheduling deliveries and being notified as soon as a new gift offering drops. 

Afloat currently has over 30,000 users. It’s backed by Goodwater Capital and Techstars, with over $5M in total funding.

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