Wishgenie is a social platform which allows its users to club together to buy gifts for their friends.
I've been asking CEO David Berney about the business model and the company's plans...
In one sentence, what is wishgenie?
Wishgenie is the social gifting platform - allowing users to group together to buy each other the perfect gift via web, smartphone or Facebook; or through our buttons on retailers' websites.
What problems does wishgenie solve?
For consumers, wishgenie finally rules out unwanted gifts by allowing users to browse the wishes of their friends and share their own.
This means people can give and receive gifts that are really desired. Wishgenie also allows families and friends to come together and give a gift they may not otherwise be able to afford; group gifting enables users to contribute as little or as much as they want towards someone’s big dream.
Users at wishgenie can easily and instantly share their wishes with friends and family no matter how far afield, and can compile wish lists of products from a wide range of stores all in one place.
For retailers, wishgenie provides the first real opportunity to fully harness and measure the benefits of social commerce. Wishgenie provides incremental brand reach using the social graph - products are easily shared across Facebook (with Google+ and Twitter coming soon), so brands can take full advantage of peer-to-peer recommendations.
Wishgenie offers brands a way to really understand the value of social media - gifts shared, purchases bought as a result of sharing and so on, through our detailed reporting. Our products are also available to brands for use on their own websites - we give them the tools (via simple APIs) to to implement buttons on their retail sites.
These buttons allow users to 'Group gift', create a 'Wish List' or 'Virtually Gift Wrap' any item. Retailers also benefit from a dedicated page on wishgenie.com which lists all their products and offers the opportunity to segment their audience and target with promotional offers.
Through providing this type of community access and increased brand visibility, we're looking forward to witnessing its growth as our unique service gathers viral momentum and drives sales.
When and why did you launch it?
Growing up in a large family in Ireland, I was always aware of the importance of community spirit – I admired how everyone would come together for the good of the community - and it is this part of my background that inspired and motivated me to create wishgenie.
In an increasingly fragmented online-focused society, the idea of social groups coming together – both on and offline – is more important than ever. Wishgenie is the first platform of its kind in the UK, and we are confident that consumers and retailers alike will benefit from the social sharing and peer-to-peer endorsement approach it offers.
How are you funding the company?
At the moment the business is mainly owner-funded. We'll be looking for a further injection of funding in the new year from VCs and similar.
Who is your target audience?
Like any social media platform, our consumer audience is very broad. Because it removes so many of the hassles of giving and receiving the perfect presents, it's an essential tool for anyone who gives or receives a gifts.
We're also the perfect solution for retailers who are already operating within the gifting market. Our tools give customers even more options for buying gifts, especially higher ticket price items.
What are your immediate goals?
Right now, we're focused on growing our consumer base, and making sure that we continue to develop the product to ensure we're delivering on what our users want, so that they keep recommending us to their friends.
Forging relationships and getting agreements with retailers is also really important right now. We've already got agreements from some of the major retailers in the UK and are working hard on development to get our buttons live on their sites.
In one instance we're actually building a white-labelled version of our mobile app for a major international brand. Retailers have been incredibly receptive to what we offer and, fortunately, we're able to be extremely flexible and adaptive to new requirements.
What were the biggest challenges involved in building wishgenie?
One of our challenges has been building up the relationships with retailers. As a completely unknown business within a very new sector, getting traction has been quite time-consuming.
As a start-up, you have the ability and the appetite to move very quickly, but we often have to work to the longer timeframes that are natural within an established retail environment.
That being said, we've made great progress over time and have built solid relationships with some of the biggest names in online retail, but more importantly those relationships have now developed into commercial agreements that benefit us both.
How will the company make money?
We operate as an affiliate so for any gift that's purchased as a result of a wish list or a group gift set up through wishgenie, we get a commission.
Who is in the team and what does it look like?
We've got a really strong team with great experience across different industries. I head up the team as CEO, and I've spent several years delivering mobile networking propositions into several countries.
The rest of the wishgenie management team includes experts with significant experience across publishing, mobile, finance, banking and retail. In addition we have a strong team of 17 developers supports the technical platform, with dedicated experts in mobile, security and billing.
Where would you like to be in one, three and five year's time?
In one year, we'd like to have built a solid user base, and established ourselves with the major retailers across the UK.
Without giving away too much, in three years' time, we want to have expanded internationally, and further developed our product offer. There are some hugely exciting opportunities for us within the micro- and mobile-billing space.
We don't want to lose our innovative start-up ethos, so in five years' time I imagine we'll have continued to change and shape the product to really deliver what consumers are looking for. But of course, we aim to be the essential gift-giving tool for all consumers, across the globe!