“When it came time to start wedding planning, I really struggled with the traditional models of gift giving that were available – we didn’t want or need lots of meaningless little gifts that meant nothing to us and nothing to our guests.”
A few years ago, Charles Roche was a farmer in search of a wife. This desire led him to the wild world of reality television, which ultimately inspired him to begin his career as a tech entrepreneur, launching his start-up – The Gift Collective.
“As a single farmer, friends and family would always ask me when I was applying for The Farmer Wants a Wife,” says Roche. “My answer was always the same – never! When a few friends bumped into one of the show’s producers at a local store, they gave my number. I politely declined at first but eventually, I caved and I’m so glad I did. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was fun, surreal, overwhelming, nerve-wracking, exciting and heart-breaking all at the same time.”
“The Farmer Wants a Wife was the start of a journey for me and encouraged me to give myself over to the search for love. It was the catalyst for later following my heart and getting married,” says Roche.
He adds: “When it came time to start wedding planning, I really struggled with the traditional models of gift giving that were available – we didn’t want or need lots of meaningless little gifts that meant nothing to us and nothing to our guests. On the other hand, we didn’t want to ask guests for money and we felt that registries lack a personal touch. We just wanted to share what we loved, and why we loved it… and if we could make that gift mean something to our guests, then they just might come together to give us what we really wanted! It was that spark of an idea that led me to create The Gift Collective.”
The Gift Collective inspires family and friends to unite in the experience of gift-giving. Giftees simply hop online and set up an “occasion” for guests. They then add a gift or multiple gifts, with imagery and details of each. Gifts can be anything and can be chosen from anywhere. Gifts are transformed into a virtual Gift Puzzle and guests are able to purchase pieces of the puzzle, depending on how much they are happy to spend. Guests simply search for the occasion, select how many puzzle pieces they want to purchase and make a secure payment online.
“These days, newlyweds often already have all the household items people would traditionally want as wedding gifts, and what they really want is often too expensive to ask of one person. The most popular gifts people tend to ask for are travel, artwork, wine and expensive household items. Birthdays are another popular occasion to bring people together to give gifts. Most people have experienced the mess of planning a joint gift for a birthday with one unlucky friend who always ends up in charge of nagging for money off everyone. The platform automates the whole process seamlessly,” says Roche.
“The idea is that by inspiring your guests with a story and explaining why you long for this gift, you are giving them a unique experience as a gift giver and thus, creating an emotional connection. It becomes a far more satisfying and rewarding way of buying presents. We always encourage giftees to create puzzles with a lot of pieces at less money per piece, to give guests freedom to spend what they wish to,” he adds.
Roche’s journey from farmer to tech entrepreneur has not been without its challenges and his secret has been to surround himself with like-minded business people. The team is currently based in a co-working space for scalable tech start-ups and Charles is looking at taking the platform overseas and expanding.
Inside Small Business