NY Startup: GiftSimple Wins Best Social Startup At NY Tech Day INTERVIEW

New York startup GiftSimple won the Best Social Startup award at the recent New York Tech Day. The woman owned startup is a crowdfunding gift registry startup.

Now, instead of collecting a bunch of regiftable gifts that you either don’t like, won’t wear or are way too small, you can use GiftSimple to tell people what you really want. The best part is, when the item is too much for one person, multiple people can team up to crowd fund that gift.

GiftSimple is fully integrated with Facebook so that you can easily share your gift list and friends can contribute whenever they want. GiftSimple also reminds you of your friends birthdays and easily allows you to see their gift lists as well.

We got a chance to speak with Jess Lachs the founder of  GiftSimple about GiftSimple and winning the “Best Social Startup” at New York Tech Day.

Interview after the break

Briefly Describe what GiftSimple is:

GiftSimple is a social gifting site for all of life’s events. GiftSimple lets you register for the gifts you want and tap into your social network to pool contributions from friends and family. The money is accessible at any time and you are free to use it on whatever you like, whenever you like, and wherever you like!

GiftSimple can be used for any gifting occasion: birthdays, weddings, showers, anniversary parties, housewarmings, graduations, holidays, fundraising, etc.


Who are the founders and what are your backgrounds?

Jessica Lachs is GiftSimple’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of GiftSimple; however, she has a strong team behind her including a web developer, product manager and creative director.

Jessica recently received her MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a dual major in Entrepreneurial Management and Strategic Management. Prior to Wharton, she was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers, where she worked with companies in the technology, retail and service industries. She also holds a BS with honors from Cornell University.

What is the problem GiftSimple is solving?

Many people find it difficult to save up for a large ticket item and receiving contributions towards that purchase would really help; but organizing a group gift offline can be hassle. At the same time, we all get presents that we don’t want. GiftSimple solves all of these problems.

Instead of putting a new SLR camera on a credit card, concerned about the ability to pay the bill in full, users can list the camera on GiftSimple and access their network to help them afford it. Whether the occasion is a birthday, holiday, or no occasion at all, small gifts from many people add up.

There are already some other startups in this space like simpleregistry in Chicago, what is your secret sauce against the competition?

Group gifting is not a new concept; people have been doing it offline for years, and several websites have recently sprung up to facilitate the splitting of gifts. GiftSimple is different in a few important ways.

1. First, with GiftSimple, it is the gift receiver who initiates the process. We

provide a simple tool for users to set up and spread the word about their

own gift registry. But unlike traditional registries, which often include dozens

of items, GiftSimple helps users get the big-ticket items they really want.

2. Next, our site is completely integrated with Facebook, giving users seamless

access to their entire social network. GiftSimple is built into a platform that

users are already familiar with and comfortable sharing on. This integration

increases the inherent virality of GiftSimple. When a customer lists a gift, a

message is posted to her wall alerting friends and family to her GiftSimple

registry. The post includes a short personalized message and links to

contribute to her gift or to list a new gift. Additionally, when a user gives a

gift, a message is posted on both the gift giver and gift receiver’s wall, alerting

an even broader network to the exchange and providing links to “join in”

or list a new gift. GiftSimple leverages a users’ social network and game

mechanics to get users to contribute to the gifting process and add more

money to the collection.

3. Finally, we have very few restrictions on listing and giving gifts—we want

our customers to have the flexibility to give as much as they like and as

frequently as they like.


What happens if some of the more established registries turn on a crowd sourcing option like amazingregistry.com or any of the more established sites like Target or Crate and Barrel?

It is possible that the more established registries will turn on a crowd sourcing option. While the crowd funding feature is part of GiftSimple’s appeal, what makes GiftSimple unique is the freedom it gives to users. Traditional registries are all about the retailer, their inventory, return policy, etc., GiftSimple is about the customer.

You can list anything on your GiftSimple registry, even if it can’t be bought in a store. Planning a honeymoon Remodeling your kitchen? Saving for a new car? You can’t put those items on a traditional registry. GiftSimple collects monetary gifts from your friends and family and keeps them safe until you are ready to cash out. Once you cash out, the money is yours to do with as you please.

Congratulations on winning New York Tech Day’s best social startup, what was some of the feedback from the judges, what did they like about GiftSimple?

The judges applauded the simplicity of GiftSimple – simple to use and simple to understand.

What’s a lesson that you’ve learned while starting GiftSimple?

Get your product out there. It’s easy to get bogged down with analysis—models, focus groups, etc. but sometimes you just have to make a decision and move forward. I am a somewhat risk-averse person, and as a former investment banker I love a good excel model, but until you get your product out there, you really will never know if it will work.

Have you found it more challenging to launch GiftSimple as a woman entrepreneur?

I think being an entrepreneur is challenging no matter your gender. As of now, being a woman CEO has not been an issue. That said, I have heard fundraising can be more difficult for a female. GiftSimple has not yet sought outside investment, so check back with me at a later date and perhaps my answer will have changed!

What’s next for GiftSimple

We are focused on user acquisition. The most common response I receive when I tell someone about GiftSimple is: “I wish that had existed when…” Now that GiftSimple does exist, I want everyone to know about it.

This is where you let us know how to check out giftsimple and link us

Website: GiftSimple.com
Facebook app: http://apps.facebook.com/giftsimpleapp
Twitter: @GiftSimple
Blog: blog.GiftSimple.com
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/giftsimple/

To learn more about how to use GiftSimple, check out our demo on our homepage or by clicking here.


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