What gave you the idea?
It was really born out of my own needs: I’ve got godchildren, nephews and nieces back in the UK, and while I always remember their birthday, I’m admit I’m never organized enough to get their gifts sent in time. So I thought back to my own childhood, and the best gifts that I remember getting were the envelopes that came through the door, delivered by the postman with 10 or 20 quid inside from granny and granddad, and momentarily I was rich.
Tell us about the website…
It’s basically a way to give loved ones living abroad small cash amounts on special occasions such as birthdays. It’s mainly aimed at people who need to regularly send gifts abroad to nieces, nephews, godchildren and the like, and ensures that gifts can be sent from anywhere in the world to residents living in the UAE and the UK.
So once you decide to make a purchase on the site, what happens then?
You choose the amount of money you want to spend (in either Dirhams or Sterling), and it calculates the cost of the card, commissions and postage. It’s pretty straightforward – it takes three or four minutes to use from start to finish. It’s designed to be granny-proof! You choose a card, write a message, then the card is dispatched with the message and cash inside. Any dirham gift that’s been sent to the UAE will be hand delivered by courier. And any gift that’s sent to the UK will be sent via Royal Mail – we’ve been testing it for three months, and we haven’t had a single gift go missing at either end of the chain – it’s very safe. All of the transactions are done over Paypal, so we don’t take any credit card details ourselves.
What other nifty features does it have?
There’s also a calendar function on the website, so you don’t have to wait two or three days prior to the recipient’s birthday prior to making the order. You can either make the purchase and specifiy a dispatch date in advance, or you can log on and enter the birthdays that you need to remember over the course of the year, and the system will run an automatic check on the 25th of every month, and alert you to any birthdays coming up the following month. You can pay up front or wait for the reminder to come in.
Who designed the cards?
All the cards are designed by a local artist called Chrissie Jenkins, who has a character called Humph the Camel, which has starred in a number of books and gift items. She’s very well-known in the region.
How long does it take from placing your order to the child getting the card the other end?
It depends what time of day you send it. If we receive it after 2pm, it will go out the following day into the postal or courier system. Usually speaking, first class post or courier allows 24 hours, so they should have it the following day after that.
How does your new venture fit in with family life?
It’s good, the kids are at school, so I get all morning to work from the office, it fits in really well with my lifestyle, and leaves me the afternoon to enjoy with the children. It’s a big change from my previous jobs, where I was working on average at least a 12-hour day. We’re really keeping it in the family too – I’m working on the site alongside my brother and sister back in the UK, and my mum’s something of a serial entrepreneur when it comes to cottage industry, so she’s been a wealth of advice.
Do you see yourself expanding in terms of your offerings?
Eventually. In terms of the cards themselves, our research showed that most people send gifts for birthdays or Christmas. Since we’ve launched, we’ve had people asking us about Valentines, christenings and Eid, so if we do see the demand, then we’ll definitely see what we can do.