MARKETS & INVESTING | Krisana Gallezo-Estaura, Hong Kong

Check out a one-stop shop for gifts

It simulates a department store.

During an economic downturn, our survival instincts urge us to cut down on spending, but probably not on gift giving. A young entrepreneur, Justin Chung, believes that no matter how bad the economy, everyone needs gifts. Christmas will always come, there are always girls to impress on Valentine’s Day, mothers are giving birth everyday and businesses are always trying to impress their clients everyday. As such, after his fashion business in Australia failed during the financial crisis, he moved to Hong Kong in 2011 to be in the gift business. He founded GiftSomething which is billed as the world's first one-stop gift department store.

“Gifts are so embedded in the Asian culture. It’s not like the West where there is only Christmas. There is mid autumn festival, Chinese New Year, there are two Valentine’s Days in Hong Kong and giving gifts is part of life in Asia,” he said.

GiftSomething simulates a department store for gifts. It serves as a one-stop shop for gifts from everything you can think of like flowers and hampers to having a Michelin chef cooking a five-course dinner at your home.

Many of the products at GiftSomething are exclusively sourced around the world and could only be found on its platform in Asia. GiftSomething also acts as an omni-channel for a number of luxury brands.

In founding GiftSomething, Justin and the team want to solve two problems in the gift commerce.

After moving to Asia, Justin found that the gift commerce is a segmented market where you have to go to a florist to buy flower and somewhere else to buy your gift to go with the flowers. Also, they found it full of the same boring gift ideas.

“We want to disrupt the market by bringing new gift concepts and ideas,” he said.

The team behind GiftSomething has no programming or e-commerce experience. Yet, they managed to build a website themselves in two weeks so they could start the ball rolling to meet demands for mid-autumn festival. Three years after, GiftSomething has grown to be one of the most successful players in the industry. This mid-autumn festival, Justin shared that they are delivering a hamper every 50 seconds.

The company is currently self-funded with US$130,000, yet it is profitable with an estimated turnover of US$3 million this financial year.

The team is currently raising US$1million to ramp up operations and expand into Southeast Asia. They opened an office in Singapore on November 2015 and they are expanding into Malaysia by end of 2016.

“With the money raised, we plan to further expand into Thailand and Philippines where there is a high demand for our service,” said Justin.

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