Exclusive Interview With MyPerfectGift Founder Teri Freeman
Don’t make your niece cry. Yeah, that matching dress you buy the girls each year that dad has them wear when you visit – she dreads it. In your defense, you probably have no idea what she wants in the first place and you’re doing your best. But gifts should cause joy, not tears. That’s why aunt Teri Freeman created MyPerfectGift.
MyPerfectGift.com is a web-based gift registry application that eliminates all the frustrations associated with gift giving. Instead of worrying about what to give one another or making blind guesses, MyPerfectGift (MPG) allows you to create easy-to-share wishlists, which help friends and family give the perfect gift for any occasion – a gift that will actually be appreciated!
“What do you want?” Away with that awkward question. Away with the hassle of buying things that will just be returned. MPG offers four types of wishlists (Personal, Wedding, Baby, and Kidlet – for children under 14) with items linked to online retailers, that ensure it is easier than ever to find the perfect gift. Startup founder Teri Freeman tells us more about putting the pleasure back into presents:
What finally convinced you that you HAD to build MyPerfectGift and that it would be a success?
Once upon a time, long ago… well not so long, around 2005, I went to Scottsdale in late February to visit a friend. When we were at lunch, I asked her about the necklace she was wearing. She said, “Oh, it was for Valentine’s Day.” I said, “You don’t seem very happy,” and she said, “I pointed to the one next to this one in the jewelry case.” Her poor husband thought he was getting her something she wanted, but she didn’t like it at all and couldn’t say anything. I thought that was so sad – there should be a better way. And the seed was planted…
I couldn’t stop thinking about a better way to give gifts. I researched gift registries and came up with a couple dozen web sites with 200 to 2000 users, but none of them were user friendly and they mostly just didn’t deliver a pleasant experience. I started looking at domain names and doodling page layouts. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with ideas about different features. I was hooked. I couldn’t stop thinking about how to make a web site that could take the stress and guesswork out of gift giving. Everyone I talked to thought it was a great idea and encouraged me though I had never created a website before and am not a technical person.
This was before tab browsing, HTML5 or Social Media. Every online retailer had their own “Gift Registry” but I didn’t know anyone who used them beyond weddings and new babies. I wanted a way to create a wishlist from any retailer and share it with the people in my gift exchange circle. I hired a website design firm to create MyPerfectGift.com and started learning about more technical things than I ever thought possible. In December 2010, I opened Beta testing to my family and started fine tuning the site after their feedback. In 2011, I switched to another design firm with a larger team of engineers to improve features and functionality. For the last 3 Christmases I did all my shopping online for 2 dozen people in just a couple of hours, and everyone was thrilled with their gifts.
The explosive growth in online retail shopping and the billions of dollars of commissions paid on click-through sales convinced me this was a revenue model with great potential. The “perfect storm” of technology, exponential online retail sales growth, and the Law of Attraction make this the right time to present the solution to a dilemma everyone faces.
We all like gifts, yet, it seems difficult to convince people to sign up for registries. Do you find this to be the case? And if so, why?
You Show Me Yours and I’ll Show You Mine
People don’t want to be perceived as selfish in asking for gifts even though wedding and baby registries are widely accepted, even expected. The fact is when you share your wishlist with the 20-30 people in your friends and family circle and ask them to make a wishlist to make gift buying easier, it’s not the same as posting things you want to your 600 closest Facebook friends. My family and friends know they are helping me out and taking the stress and guesswork out of gift giving. It will soon be considered good manners to maintain a wishlist for year round gift giving occasions. Eventually it might even be considered passive-aggressive if you don’t have a registry, leaving the stress on the gift giver.
What sets MPG apart from other gift registries?
MPG doesn’t try to be a social or shopping hub. There are lots of sites that are heavily into social sharing, like pinboard sites that may contain thousands of images of everything you like from art to animals to cooking, gardening, hobbies and humor. But it’s not an easy task to sort through uncurated lists to find a direct link to a retailer – and know the size, color, or model of an item you might be able to give as a gift.
Another aspect unique to MyPerfectGift is that we work with celebrities, helping raise funds for their favorite charities. Actor / Director Joe Mantegna was kind enough to make his registry last Christmas and it’s a really interesting collection of items. I think people would be interested to see what their favorite celebrities like.
What are the best gifts you’ve given and received?
Last Christmas one of the items on my Godson’s registry were fog lights for his pickup truck. Um ok, click add to cart, send, done. He was over the moon. He sent me a profuse thank you note and pictures… of his truck… with new fog lights… I guess it’s a guy thing. My daughter has very good taste in jewelry, so her eyes really light up when she gets a new piece. I try to keep 20+ items in all price ranges on my own registry.
My husband got me a touchscreen monitor for my desktop computer last Christmas. He said he didn’t even know they made large touchscreen monitors. I was thrilled, and he had it set up for me in minutes. He’s much more relaxed about gift giving since MyPerfectGift. For many years he was frustrated every Valentine’s, Birthday, Anniversary, Mother’s Day and Christmas. Everyone should have their spouse / significant other make a registry. No more overspending or having to include the receipt for that inevitable exchange.
What can you tell us about MPG’s involvement with The Wheel of Fortune and The Price Is Right? How have the shows helped your company?
We were on The Wheel for the first time on 3/5 (click here to watch the video) and again on 3/7. We did have an uptick in traffic after airing, so we are hopeful that people’s curiosity will be piqued. We don’t have an air date for The Price Is Right yet, but it will be in April before Mother’s Day – a great time to ask mom to make a registry. She may want salsa lessons this year instead of another sweater.
What type of registry has been the most popular on MPG so far?
The majority of registries are the Personal Registry. We also have a Kidlet Registry that was awarded the Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal by PTPA Media. Helping children maintain a wishlist to share with family and friends gives them confidence that their desires are being heard and they aren’t constantly asking “buy me this, buy me that” every time you go to a store. Our Wedding and New Baby Registries have a slightly different layout for those events. After that particular event is over, you can copy any items you want to keep on your list over to a Personal Registry.
How will you define success for MyPerfectGift?
I think MyPerfectGift is at the threshold of tremendous growth. The problem is universal: “Gift giving is stressful, especially around the Holidays.” The solution: “Everyone in a friends and family circle should make and share their wishlists.” The Market is in the hundreds of billions of dollars with a wide open opportunity to capture billions in click-through commissions. Success would mean connecting with an investor / partner to take MyPerfectGift to the next level with a merger or IPO in 3 to 5 years.
Any tips or advice for other women entrepreneurs?
Anyone with a startup idea should connect with an incubator group at the earliest possible stage. Exposure to mentors, possible co-founders with complimentary skills, and a direct line to the investor community will be invaluable. If you bootstrap, the way I did, you may find yourself with an operational business but no access to the investor community.
If you have any free time, how do you prefer to spend it these days?
Living in Napa is pretty sweet, and it’s an easy drive up-valley to a scenic restaurant or winery. It’s pretty amazing to live and work in such a beautiful resort destination. I make time for family, go to a high school track meet or a movie, then go back to work with a fresh perspective.
Any secrets for keeping life / work / family in balance? (or for managing imbalance?)
Make time for hubby so he doesn’t feel like an afterthought. Have regular date nights. Set priorities, don’t procrastinate. If you get stuck, take a break and get a fresh perspective. Ask for help when you need it and move on if you find something just isn’t working.
Can you maintain the passion and level of dedication that it’s taken to get to this point?
Absolutely! After years of hard work, I am committed to the success of MyPerfectGift and I’m willing to make whatever effort is required to ensure its success. I look forward to working with an investor / partner and a team that captures the incredible potential I envision.
Courtesy of startup founder | MyPerfectGift