Katherine Baranova (OneMBA, 2019)
Boon & Bliss – mobile gifting app
When I looked at my dinner table the morning after my 40th birthday party, I saw it was rammed with books, vases and soaps. It all felt so wrong. I didn’t need these presents. But my friends had spent time and effort thinking about what would make me happy. This triggered a question. Was it just me who felt so awkward at receiving unwanted gifts? I read up on the latest behavioural research and it showed that two out of five people lie about liking a gift. More than six in 10 (61 per cent) would prefer to receive cash so they can get what they really want, but only 19 per cent consider giving it – it’s too impersonal. It’s an environmental horror story too. Every year, gifts contribute 18,000 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere – that’s more than all the monthly air flights in Europe, never mind all the plastic, paper and overconsumption.
The big idea
We all have enough stuff, but what most of us lack is the time and money to fulfil our dreams. Could we give people what they really want without resorting to cash? If we could group together, we could give someone the freedom to choose what they want, but also to feel part of it. Our technology offers the benefits of cash and eliminates the drawbacks. It works because we’re all so connected in online communities that it’s easy to spread the word and gather more givers.
Our Boon & Bliss app enables people to join together and electronically give someone cash towards a dream, and for each to attach a personal message to a group video reel. Unlike gift cards, there’s no expiry date attached; the receiver has complete freedom to do what they want with the money – unlike envelopes of cash this is more engaging and transparent which keeps the connection going and the memories alive. There’s no charge for contributors, but once a receiver cashes out, we charge a two per cent service fee.
It took us six months to develop our app, and six months after going live, we had more than a thousand users. We want to be the first gift that comes to the minds of digital natives around the world. Investment will help us to develop our technology and allow us to partner with vendors, such as retailers of sports gear or musical instruments. Businesses will benefit from visibility on our platform and this could provide us with a critical new income stream if we can charge for listings and click-throughs. This is where the real value will lie for future investors.