SAN MATEO (04/10/2000) - In a moment of acuity last spring, Internet entrepreneurs David Waxman and Farell Miller noticed a dearth of major players in the online gift-service market. With the huge pool of potential online gift buyers in mind, they began preparations for the December 1999 launch of Giftworld.com, an e-business that provides gift ideas for corporate Internet shoppers.
The two enlisted an impressive managerial staff but soon realized they needed a progressive technical leader with e-commerce expertise to achieve their vision.
With 17 years experience in e-business and back-end solutions, Christine Caracappa was a perfect choice.
As CTO, Caracappa's personal challenge is to stay on top of the technology that makes fast expansion possible, and to pay close attention to her company's budget.
"I need to get the best possible leverage out of every dime spent on technology," Caracappa explains. "This means being very good at knowing what makes us successful so that I can spend money in the right way. "At Giftworld.com, visitors can browse, purchase, package, and send items all from one Web site. Since December, the company has focused on providing services to corporations that employees can access from their desks, such as customized gift stores on company intranets. Shoppers receive a special discount, while employers keep their staffs on hand.
According to Caracappa, this is just the beginning.
"The e-businesses that do not reinvent themselves once or twice before this time next year will not be around for long," Caracappa says.
In fact, she believes that evolving an e-business is critical.
"We plan to keep expanding our services so that we are not just a store but a full-featured service provider and business partner," Caracappa explains.
For example, Giftworld.com plans to offer customized boutiques for hotel concierges to assist guests with their shopping needs. Also, the company is integrating technology that will provide state-of-the-art reminder services.
"For instance, if your husband's birthday is in 10 days and he likes guitars, you may receive an e-mail from us with a selection of guitars we have researched and recommend," says Caracappa.
To keep Giftworld.com operating with technology that keeps pace with the company's expanding Web presence, Caracappa continually broadens her own knowledge base.
"I learn probably 20 new things every day about all aspects of technology, and I still can't know everything," Caracappa says. "One hundred individuals at a larger ... corporation might do the job that I do."
Caracappa watches for new gift-service rivals.
"There are so few barriers to entry on the Internet that new competition is emerging constantly," Caracappa says. "You must differentiate yourself by providing the best customer experience available on the Web."
Caracappa predicts that Giftworld.com will "soon eclipse" more established gift companies that have been online for several years because it rejects limitation.
"We are going to continue pushing the envelope," Caracappa says. "Anything that helps consumers, be it a service or a product line, is fair game to us."