By Yiannis Faf, co-founder of WhatWeWant

Being confronted with the important, not to mention daunting, task of finding the ‘perfect’ gift for a loved one – compounded by the risk of getting swept up in sales frenzies and buying throwaway presents that will ultimately mean little to the recipient – is an experience most people are all too familiar with.

With the festive season upon us, the yearly scramble to find the perfect gift is rapidly taking hold. Consumers up and down the UK are preparing to venture out to their favourite high street shops, local Christmas markets or scour the internet in search of the ultimate gift(s) for their friends, family and colleagues.

Having been through the motions ourselves and dealt with the common mishaps of gift-giving that all of us know too well, my family and I set out to create a convenient solution that would bring the fun back into the tradition.

Our ultimate aim? To provide a stress-free way of securing the perfect present for your loved ones.

Where it all began

The original idea came when my brother, Dimitris, stumbled across a dilemma that most of us will have faced: what should we get a friend or family member for Christmas? He went through the standard list of questions – what do they want/ need? Will they like it? Do they have it? He quickly realised that all of the options that fitted the bill were out of his price range.

It was at this point that he had the so-called “lightbulb” moment. Why waste time and money buying a smaller, less meaningful present, when you could team up with others to fund a larger present that the recipient actually wants?

And so, he began ironing out the details of the concept, settling on an easy-to-use app which could allow people to pool resources and secure the perfect gift. After pitching to the rest of the family, the rest of us quickly came on board. After all, we’d all been through similar dilemmas and realised there was huge potential to offer an effective solution to this common problem.

How does the app work?

The app itself was designed to tackle the communication blockage between gift-giver and recipient; a factor that we thought was the key cause of unwanted presents (having recently surveyed over 2,000 UK consumers, we found that over half, or 53%, of adults have received unwanted presents in the last 12 months alone!). We wanted to reduce the risk of people receiving unwanted presents by offering a platform where people would feel comfortable openly asking for what they actually want.

That’s why we settled on a crowdfunding model. The app itself enables people to create a gift for themselves or for someone else for an upcoming event – whether this is a birthday, Christmas or a wedding.

Users can upload an image, a short description and the price of the gift. The app then notifies friends and family so they can contribute towards the chosen gift. Once enough money is raised (the money is stored in a secure account until the price is reached), the funds can be withdrawn and then spent on the gift.

Creating an app as a family unit

This is a question we always get asked, given the interesting nature of our business structure. WhatWeWant is formed of myself, brother and our parents, with each of us playing an equal role in driving the business. After all, in business, it is fairly rare to find a team where the youngest member gets as much input as the older and most experienced members.

It’s safe to say that without such diversity, we might not have considered the needs of the wider market. For example, my mother’s frustrating experience buying birthday presents for mine and my brother’s school friends, despite not knowing anything of their likes and dislikes, opened our eyes to a demographic we had previously overlooked. Thus, we were able to ensure the app would be accessible to parents, as well as younger tech-natives.

Some might think that this would cause family disputes, but in fact it’s actually the reason we’ve had so much success thus far in our journey. Working with your family has significant benefits. For one, our close relationship enables us to effectively collaborate on ideas and identify key areas of focus; this undoubtedly enabled us to develop the app at such a rapid pace.

Moreover, working as a family unit created a platform to openly vocalise our concerns regarding everything from our core idea to the UX and brand. The fact that the idea came from family experiences has also kept us motivated to follow through on our vision to help people give and receive presents they really want. Each of us cares deeply about seeing our idea become a reality.

Of course, there are times when running a family business can be challenging. With the success of the business relying on a close-knit team’s shoulders, it’s always tempting to take one’s work home with you. Working with your family certainly increases this risk, as you naturally see those you work far more outside of work hours.

The future of gift-giving

Our over-arching mission was to put the fun back into gift-giving. Our research suggested that many people were losing sight of the joy that should be associated with presents; as a result, 65% of recipients feel guilty when receiving presents they don’t actually want, whilst 47% of gift givers feel stressed at the thought of getting the wrong present for a loved one.

Technology holds the solution to many of the problems we encounter in our everyday lives, and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t extend to gift-giving. It is our hope that, with more people embracing new technologies, the perfect present will not be lost in translation and, more importantly, gift-giving will once again become an enjoyable part of celebrations!

Yiannis Faf is co-founder of the crowd-gifting app, WhatWeWant. The app, which Yiannis created alongside his family, allows users to create a gift for an upcoming event for themselves, or for someone else.

Users can contribute to gifts as well as notify their friends and family to contribute to their own gifts. Once enough has been raised, users simply use the money to buy their dream gift, cutting out a lot of stress, wasted money and unwanted gifts. WhatWeWant is now available to download on iPhone and Android.