About Me ..... Advertise ..... Contact

Monday, June 16, 2008

Starting a business to relieve the stress of regifting

Christmas and birthdays often feel like a chore to me. Not only do I have to figure out what to get everyone, but then people ask me what I want. It’s at that moment my mind usually goes blank and I can’t figure out for the life of me what I want or need, usually until the day after Christmas. Yeah, I’m a scrooge.

I just discovered a new site, regiftmenot.com, which is a universal gift registry that allows me to preference which gifts I want for any occasion. I simply put in my “style file” my sizes for clothes and shoes (even bra size or undie styles – let’s see, will that be a thong or granny panties this year?), stores I like, styles I like, hobbies, and just about anything else you can think of. Additionally, I can download their “widget” and at anytime throughout the year if I see something on another website I want to have, I can click the button and my gift preference will be added to my wish list. Then I can send this list of preferences and items to anyone I choose, to make it easier for them to buy for me. Hopefully my other relatives and friends will make gift buying easier for me as well by filling out this form. Brilliant.

Kat Valentine came up with the business idea the day after Christmas, 2005. hmmm, do you think she may have gotten some gifts that year she wanted to take back? She says, “Like so many other global citizens, my friends and family live in different cities – and different countries! We don’t have the luxury of daily personal interaction and many of the gifts we give and receive on special occasions don’t fit body or home. Everyone likes to get great gifts, but even more everyone likes to GIVE great gifts. ReGiftMeNot was concepted and developed to meet that need in a fun, entertaining, and playful way.”

The business officially kicked off September 10, 2007. Says Kat, “I’ve been the owner of a web development company, WebMistress.com, for 10 years. The programming, creative, and marketing talent is right here and we’ve been making other businesses successful on the web for years. Starting our own web based, social networking / gifting business was a natural choice. The most difficult aspect of starting the business was, as is so often, finances. I purchased and sold a home to raise the capital to support the staff as we moved from billable hours to development hours. The easiest part of starting this business was the access to incredibly talented and creative individuals. Everyone who has been part of the development has participated with genuine enthusiasm and has brought amazing new ideas to the table. The idea is simple, but the execution is complex and could not have been done without them.

“The initial investment can be calculated in two ways - dollars spent and dollars lost. I’ve invested $50K supporting payroll and expenses, but the amount of billable hours lost exceeds $125K. Our primary goal is to build a successful social networking community. We have reasonable expectations and know this is a five-year commitment at least. The community is supported by affiliate sales, but the sales are secondary and I’ll be happy to break even in the first two years.

"We use a BBS to track development and have one forum specifically for new ideas for ReGiftMeNot. There are 20+ new ideas waiting in the wings, including photo albums for members, product comparisons, polls & ratings, personal shoppers, recipe sub-site for the cooks in the crowd, and many more. Our focus will always be to develop new services to make our site interesting and usable.”

Valentine’s advice to those starting up: “Chase the vision, not the dollars. Everything takes longer than expected and costs more than expected. Be realistic with your expectations, remain focused on your vision, and you will have a successful business. “