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Give InKind CEO Laura Macolm. (Give InKind Photo)

When people need support during big life events — whether it be a family member passing away, or a newborn baby — fruit baskets and flowers sometimes aren’t ideal. But it can be hard to know what exactly someone needs and how to best get it to them.

Give InKind has come up with a solution. The Tacoma, Wash.-based company just announced a $1.5 million seed round to fuel growth of its social support platform.

The startup had bootstrapped for nearly three years until the investment, which came from firms including Madrona Venture Group, SeaChange Fund, Keeler Investments, FAM Fund, Grubstakes, X Factor Ventures, Alliance of Angels, and others angels. Trilogy Equity Partners also made a $100,000 investment as part of Give InKind’s recent participation in the Female Founders Alliance accelerator Ready Set Raise.

Laura Malcolm and her husband James Kocsis started the company following the heartbreaking news that they lost their first child just before birth. Friends and family wanted to provide something, anything. But it wasn’t the easiest process, both for the couple and their supporters.

“I don’t want you to send me flowers; I don’t want you to feel like you need to send me a fruit basket,” Malcolm said. “Actually, you coming to my house and taking out my garbage, or sending me a $25 gift card for Instacart, is way more valuable than the $120 apples and pears from Harry & David. This is what we’ve been sending for 40 years.”

(Give InKind Photo)

Malcolm pointed to a New York Times story from earlier this year headlined “Gift Cards Are the New Sympathy Cards,” which highlighted how “credits for Seamless, Uber Eats and the like are a very 21st-century way to support a grieving friend.”

Give InKind has seen 20 percent month-over-month growth in number of pages created this year and has more than 14,000 registered users. Its gross merchandise volume is $30,000. The company makes money off affiliate fees and plans to roll out a B2B offering for churches and possibly healthcare organizations. It is not yet profitable and employs less than 10 people.

Malcolm said the company does not see GoFundMe as a competitor; in fact, it allows users to connect their GoFundMe account to help pay for gifts. “We are not in the crowdfunding business,” the CEO said. The closet competitor is Meal Train, a Burlington, VT company founded in 2010.

Malcolm, who spent a decade in product management before launching Give InKind, gave credit to the Female Founders Alliance for helping take the company to the next level. It created introductions to folks such as Rudy Gadre, the Seattle angel investor who backed the company after acting as a mentor for several weeks.

“Seattle showed up for Give InKind,” she said. “They a put stamp on saying that what we’re building matters, and that you can do good and do good business at the same time.”

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