We all joke about getting socks for Christmas, but a recent poll found that Australians just spent $520 million on unwanted Christmas gifts. With my birthday being really close to Christmas, I’m used to often getting one thoughtful gift and another generic gift from people.
I know it isn’t nice to complain when people are spending money on presents for you, but on the other hand, you don’t want people to waste their money on gifts that you just won’t appreciate. I’m not innocent here, either. Some people are really hard to buy for. My dad is truly impossible to buy for – I end up resorting to gift cards or fancy shaving supplies.
Gift giving app Koobee was co-founded by Eddy Ercetin, Burak Ozkok, and Russell Brooks, (one of the guys behind the online marketplace for quirky gifts Yellow Octopus), to help gift givers get it right.
Essentially, Koobee allows users to create a wish list of gifts they would like to receive and then enables friends and family to track these lists. Lists can be compiled both online and off; users can save items they’ve found online to their wish list, and can also take photos of products they have found in retail stores, and tag the location. Koobee also offers gift suggestions, and will send notifications to a list’s followers, reminding them that a birthday or other gift-giving occasion is just around the corner.
The idea for the app came when a friend told Brooks the story of his wife asking for his credit card so she could go buy herself a present in his name – to add insult to injury, she even wrote her own message in her card for him. Her response? At least she got exactly what she wanted.
“Being in the gifting industry with Yellow Octopus, I thought there was not really anything out there that helps you find that perfect gift, especially in retail, so Koobee was born from that,” Brooks explains.
Though he runs an e-commerce marketplace, Brooks says he had no experience with apps and had no idea where to go with the Koobee idea. Though he had talked with investors who liked the idea, he didn’t know where to take it. Luckily, he ran into someone from startup incubator BlueChilli completely by chance, and it was there that the app began to take shape.
However, whether it’s online or off, the wish list concept isn’t exactly new: Offline, a wedding registry is a form of wish list, albeit not one that’s able to be used by everyone. On the web side, Amazon established its wish list feature years ago, while wishlistr, established in 2005, is getting a decent amount of traffic (though the UI does leave a lot to be desired).
Where Koobee differs, according to Brooks, is in its blending of the online and offline.
“The offline side of things allows users to connect with retailers as well. There will be push notifications so retailers can send out messages based on the person’s interests. It kind of developed over time, in terms of how we can incorporate retailers and help them bring customers back into stores,” Brooks explains.
“The whole point is to get customers back into retailers, and for retailers to be able to utilise data to work out how to market their products interestingly and creatively.”
Startup Daily discovered from Brooks that Koobee is currently in the midst of high level conversations with a number of very big retailers who are keen to get on board with the app. If Koobee does manage to secure some high level partnerships in the form of big retailers, it could help with scalability at a whole new level beyond online. Imagine being in David Jones and seeing Koobee signage saying ‘Add this to your wishlist’ – it could transform window shopping into something tangible. People can take photos of products and, thanks to the location tagging feature, their followers will know exactly which store to go to if they want to buy any items.