My Week: Justine Angelli of Shareagift

Computer programmer Justine Angelli swapped a private jet business for a crowdfunding gift website. She talks about working with major retailers and opening an office in the US.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Shareagift is essentially a crowdfunding website. People come together online to donate money towards expensive gifts for everything from weddings to christenings to birthdays.

The most popular gifts are Apple products – iPads in particular. After that it’s everything to do with babies – strollers, bedding, gifts for baby showers. The average donation is £34.50, although it can much higher or lower. In the UK, a relative tends to start the process. But in the US, which accounts for a large part of our users, people set up their own pages.  That way, they know they’ll get something they want.

I’ve always enjoyed doing my own thing. I used to have a private jet business, Avolus, which I started in 2005 and sold in 2010 to a European family fund. Before then, I was a computer programmer. I wanted to get back into tech, and around the same time I had the idea for Shareagift. A friend of mine wanted a camera for her birthday, and her boyfriend asked if some of us would like to chip in. I thought there must be a more transparent way of raising money, where you can see exactly where your money is going.

Shareagift has been live for 10 months, but I’ve been building the team for two years. Our users are doubling every month and we have 10 staff in our London office. We’re just about to open an office in San Francisco, and we expect to hire 10 staff over there within the next year. This week I’ve been sorting out all the final arrangements – I’ve just signed off the US office and hired a PR.

Our goal is to become the eBay of everything to do with gifting. We’re going to let users select birthday cards, supply gifts, create wish lists and write personal messages. We’ve also built technology which is being incorporated into retailers such as John Lewis. When shoppers find an item online at John Lewis, for example, rather than just clicking ‘add to shopping cart’, we want retailers to give the option to ‘start a group gift’. People can share it on Facebook and ask if others want to chip in. We expect to announce soon a deal with a big retailer, which is going to be a game changer for our business.

I brought in investors to finance the project and we recently completed a major funding round, although I can’t say how much we raised. We allow people to use the site free of charge because we want we want critical mass. We make money by taking a licence fee and commission from retailers when products bought direct from our users. When Shareagift first started, we charged each user an admin fee – but I soon realised that was going to be a barrier to us becoming a household name.

I love being a woman in the tech industry. I have to go out and earn my stripes, and I’m loving it. There’s not many in this industry I’m honoured to be part of them.

- Find out more about Shareagift.

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