You know what your friend doesn't want for their birthday? Or when they are having a bad day? A virtual cookie, cupcake or glass of wine. You know what they really want? A real cookie, cupcake or glass of wine.
That's the idea behind Treater.com, a new website that is launching today. It allows people to send and receive small gifts instantly via the web to a smartphone. Yes, Treater lets you send the money - we're still waiting on the technology to print a cupcake! - but it's specifically the amount for the item you select. For instance, you can send $4.50 for a latte from Starbucks or a $9.50 bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys.
"We wanted to do something more than letting people like or send a message," Treater's CEO, Jeff Ross, told ABC News.
The site allows you to log in with your Facebook account, bringing in your Facebook contacts. It then suggests friends to whom you might want to send gifts, based on whether their Facebook timelines show it's their birthday, they've just gotten engaged, etc. It also suggests gifts based on their activity - it might suggest a cupcake or cookie for a birthday or a sandwich or coffee if it believes that's what your friend might enjoy.
You can also choose to send a gift for no particular reason. You can select from a list of categories, including Caffeine, Drinks, Sweet Treats, and Good Grub. Within those categories are specific retailers, including Starbucks, Pete's Coffee, Chipolte, Shake Shack, Potbelly and others. Listed under each retailer are the prices of specific items.
Select the item or items you want to send to your friend, pay for it, and it will then email or text your friend a link to a one-time Visa or MasterCard payment card with the amount. The site has been optimized for mobile so you can show it on your smartphone at the physical store. Treater is currently working on applications for iOS and Android and ways for retailers to scan a bar code within the app.
Ross said some relationships with retailers have been made (though Treater isn't announcing them today), but even if there isn't a formal relationship you can still use Treater at any of the locations since it is really just a credit card. Ross said the company had tested the service at all the locations on its site. The company also announced today $2.5 million in funding.
But there's one last twist. Whatever you have left over from the transaction goes into what Treater calls your Piggy Bank, where you can collect money and put it toward a gift for another friend.
See, much better than a virtual cupcake.