Giving with Guusto: Whistler tech entrepreneur launches new gift app

Joe Facciolo is doing his bit to grow British Columbia’s latest tech hub

By Gillian Shaw, Vancouver Sun
Vancouver – September 3, 2014

Joe Facciolo is doing his bit to grow British Columbia’s latest tech hub. But he’s not in Yaletown, or even the False Creek flats.

Facciolo is part of a growing trend of techies who have been drawn to the mountains of Whistler, where they balance their workaholic tendencies with bouts on the bike paths and turns on the high terrain.

“It’s amazing, Whistler is becoming this awesome tech hub, we’ve got some great tech companies here in town,” said Facciolo. “It has amazing access to world class amenities.”

Facciolo said the proximity of summer and snow activities allows people to work hard yet still get out and have fun.

“People who work in the tech industry in my experience are truly workaholics,” he said.

But taking an hour to catch some powder is easier on the workaholic schedule than taking a day and that, said Facciolo, makes it easier to balance your lifestyle.

“When you want to zip out and do something fun like bike or ski — in Whistler you can work your ass off and you can take a break and access the trails in a matter of minutes.”

Facciolo is co-founder of Guusto, a start-up that recently launched a mobile gifting app that lets you buy someone a drink, dinner or some other treat at restaurants across Canada. Unlike a gift certificate, the user has the option of choosing the venue.

Say you’re not in town and everyone’s meeting at the Academic Public House for your best friend’s birthday. You can send a drink with your birthday wishes and it will pop up on your friend’s smartphone to be redeemed at the bar.

Missing Mother’s Day? Buy mom brunch at Milestone’s with the Guusto app. Treat her to dinner at The Teahouse in Stanley Park. Or you can let mom choose where she’d like to go from more than 200 restaurants that have signed up with Guusto.

Facciolo, who co-founded Whistler Tasting Tours with Skai Dalziel, launched the new company last year with Dalziel and it was chosen to participate in the Venture Acceleration Program at Vancouver’s Wavefront, Canada’s Centre of Excellence for Wireless Commercialization and Research (CECR). The Guusto app was released this summer.

“We’ve taken our experience in restaurant marketing and started a scalable tech company,” said Facciolo. “Guusto is a mobile gifting app with a hospitality focus.

“Whether it’s grabbing a friend a drink for their birthday or grabbing the tab for a client, Guusto allows you to do it from anywhere, even if you’re not there in person.

“It’s all done through your phone.”

Restaurants love it, according to Facciolo, and in the five weeks since it launched, Guusto has signed up 1,000 users.

“It’s more flexible than a gift card,” said Facciolo. “If you don’t know where someone wants to go out, you can send the item and they can pick the location.”

Guusto also has a socially responsible side. For every gift sent, the company donates one day of clean drinking water to someone in need through One Drop, an NGO launched by Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, to support access to water.

The Guusto app is available for iOS in the Apple app store with an Android version in development and expected to launch in two months. Anyone with a smartphone can redeem a Guusto gift, they don’t need to have the app to do that.

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