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Treatful, the "Anti-Groupon," Brings Online Gift Certificates to Acclaimed Restaurants into the 21st Century

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), we Americans are in the process of spending around $28 billion on gift cards this holiday season, with 80 percent of us choosing to buy at least one, spending an average of $43.23 per card.

There’s nothing new about gift cards, of course, but what is new in 2011 is the effort by a number of local startups to attack the traditional, impersonal sort of card with a new, much more personalized online approach.

Three small companies poised to disrupt the traditional gift card industry in three separate strategies are Giftly, Giftiki, and Wantful – all of which I’ve profiled earlier this year.

Now there’s a fourth to add to the list – Treatful – co-founded by two Stanford business school grads, Brent Looney and Hoon Kim.

Giftiki Brings "Collaborative Gifting" to Facebook

Another week, another message from Facebook about which of your friends have birthdays this week. You could post a message to their wall. You could purchase a virtual gift for them -- the very essence of a symbolic act.

Or, starting today, you could join with others in their social network to make a small cash gift ($1-10) that just might add up to a tidy bundle for the recipient of your collective largess.

Meet Giftiki, a collaborative gifting engine that attempts to extend commerce into social media in ways that may just alter gift giving as we’ve known it up until now.

“Your social network is a lot bigger than your wallet,” says CEO Justin Stanislaw. "With Giftiki, you can contribute small amounts of money to a friend and it won’t break the bank. But, along with 20 or 30 others in their network, it will add up to a significant gift for the recipient.”

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