Accidental Entrepreneur Enjoys Early Success With Social Gift Registry GiftSimple

June 22, 2012

1:00 pm

There are a lot of startups out there that want to make gift giving easier. NoBadGift is universal wish list that accepts donations towards the items on your list, and GiftCaddie is a universal wish list heavily used by moms and girlfriends. Giftiki is a group gifting platform that pools money to be turned into a gift card or prepaid debit card.

GiftSimple is mashup of all of the above.  The NYC-based startup is a social gift registry – so basically, it allows the crowdfunding of gifts.  Though the startup is only 6 months old, they were recently named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Brilliant Companies of 2012, and they won New York Tech Day’s Best Social Startup.

To get started, you just register for gifts and tap into your Facebook network to pool contributions from friends and family. Whether it’s a product, experience or fundraising for charity, GiftSimple is ideal for getting big-ticket items – and it can be used to organize a group gift.

While her startup is enjoying early success, founder Jessica Lachs is actually an accidental entrepreneur.

“I was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers and Barclays – and you know what happened with that industry.  I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do – and being an entrepreneur was not it.  Anyway, I went to grad school at Wharton and took a class on entrepreneurship because it fit into my schedule.   During the first day of class, the professor asked who had started a company – 6 people raised their hands – and how many want to start a company during the next 5 years – and everyone but me raised their hands.”

Lachs started GiftSimple as a class project, but the idea originated over a 10 year period, beginning when she graduated from college.  “I wanted new luggage because I love to travel.  My brother organized a group gift, but I am notoriously bad at cashing checks.  We thought, there has to be a better way for people to chip in for a gift.  Also, every year on my birthday, I’d get lots of well wishes on my Facebook wall and promises of grabbing a drink to celebrate.  I realized it would be a lot better to give someone $5 towards that drink to be used whenever.”

With about a thousand active users right now, Lachs said the most popular item requested on GiftSimple is an iPad and that typically people ask for less than $500.  Of course, there are outliers : the $1000 Gucci diaper bag and $2500 3D printer from MakerBot.

If you have an event coming up – wedding, birthday, anniversary – give GiftSimple a try!

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Monika Jansen is a writer and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, newsletters, website content, and other materials. Follow her at: @monikacjansen

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