09 Apr 2018
Group gifting doesn’t have to be difficult
“What if I created a website and an app that collects money for leaving gifts with just a few clicks?”
“What if I created something that makes collecting contributions from colleagues; friends and family easy and efficient?”
These are the questions I was asking myself yet again whilst at my parents’ house. I was helping them with some painting and decorating and as so often, I found my mind focussing on my new business idea.
It was a recurring theme: I was up for another new challenge; I wanted to build something for myself that I believed could work for the long-term; I needed to create something unique and credible. Many different ideas and schemes had circled my head over the previous months, most dismissed for various reasons. But the one I kept coming back to was something to make group gifting easy.
You see, I’d experienced it first-hand in several of my previous places of work and I’m sure most of you will have too at some point or another. John is leaving or Sarah is off on maternity leave and someone is nominated to organise a collection to buy a gift and a card. So, the organiser has to go around to everyone else in the office, without the person who’s leaving seeing and ask for contributions. The money is usually stuffed into an envelope and the name of the contributor is ticked off the list, often stapled to the front of said envelope.
But isn’t it just such a faff sometimes?
- “Who’s got the envelope?”
- “Oh, I left it on Brian’s desk, I don’t know where it is now” or
- “I don’t have any cash today, can I do it tomorrow?”
I’d spent months questioning myself:
- “Am I smart enough to make it work?”
- “I don’t have enough money to get it off the ground”,
- “How do I get customers to start using it?”,
- “What if I fail… and all my friends and family know I’ve failed…?”
The time is now
As the idea grew in my head I tentatively started voicing my thoughts with my family and friends yet swearing them to secrecy. The basic idea was to set up a service for an individual to create their own profile, invite colleagues to contribute and purchase a leaving gift, easily, quickly and without fuss.
What I haven’t yet mentioned is that I was already committed to running Motion Coaching, a company I’d established in 2010. We deliver individual and team development programmes for emerging talent and senior teams, teaching increased self-awareness, responsible behaviour and improved communication. We use the outdoor environment to take our clients away from their everyday office setting, which is hugely beneficial to their learning and importantly, makes learning much more fun and therefore gives it longevity.
But the more I talked about my group gifting idea, the more I realised it was the right plan for me; I instinctively knew I could make it work. It fitted with the same passions I have for people fulfilling their potential and looking out for each other in a team environment that I tried to grow through Motion Coaching. And never shy of a challenge, I knew I could make it work alongside running Motion Coaching.
And so as the idea grew in my head and as I looked at what else was out on the market I slowly realised that:
- “this IS a great idea so stop thinking about it and stop talking about it and start doing something about it.”
My first port of call was my local Business Gateway in Perth and was given help from a well-informed and encouraging business advisor. For those of you who don’t know about Business Gateway, do take a look at their website. Business Gateway is a publically funded service in Scotland providing access to free business support services.
I applied for and was delighted to be awarded a ‘By Design’ grant, to facilitate the build of a prototype website and develop my branding.
Now, I’m proud to tell you that Scotland is a fine place to be an entrepreneur! In 2016, I joined the Enterprise Partnership Scotland programme, which led to a Friends and Family round of funding and the beginning of support from Entrepreneurial Spark now the Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneurial Accelerator.
Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneurial Accelerator is the world’s largest free people accelerator for early stage and growing ventures. They have developed a series of great enablement programmes that grow the mind-set of people like me whilst supporting the business.
The Friends and Family round of funding involved me making a short video to explain my business ideas and plans, which I shared with a select and small group of family and friends. I had to lay my cards on the table in front of a camera and ask for their support, by whichever means they might be able to, be it with expertise, skills, their network or if they wanted to financially. Making and sharing that video was no mean feat I tell you!
But I needn’t have worried. I will be ever grateful for the most wonderful support and encouragement I received on the back of that video. I ended up with 26 investors and enough money to start building a Minimum Viable Product as well as working towards building a group of sellers and customers.
By now, things were starting to feel real and dare I say it, pretty darn exciting.
Curious how group gifting could help your organisation? Take a look GiftRound.com to see just how easy it can be.