Each year, $4.5 billion is spent on children’s birthday gifts, and one startup wants to make sure all children get a piece of the cake.
December 4, 2015
UNC Students’ CommuniGift Bets Kids Will Forgo Birthday Gifts to Throw Others a Party
The online Adopt-a-Family gifting site launched in Chapel Hill in 2014 pivots to encourage gift-giving to kids in need year-round.
CommuniGift describes itself as a birthday invitation and charitable gifting platform, but it actually does a lot more. It gives kids in need the opportunity to experience something that so many Americans take for granted each day—a birthday party.
And on Sunday, Dec. 6, the company founded by four University of North Carolina students and with partners like Target, Boys and Girls Club of America and Salvation Army, will hold its official launch in Los Angeles with what else but a party. (Check out TechCrunch coverage of the launch.)
Another CommuniGift partner within the Los Angeles area is Giggles N’ Hugs, which is a family-friendly restaurant and host of Sunday’s party. Giggles N’ Hugs CEO Joey Parsi says in a statement the restaurant prides itself “on helping our community and a variety of charities and causes that help children all over the world,” making its partnership with CommuniGift a natural fit.
The company receives a commission based off the sales it generates for Target, but the nonprofits pay nothing to work with CommuniGift.
Doochin says his team is currently focused on creating value, not necessarily profit, adding the team sees long-term potential for the model as they fine-tune their business.
And it appears investors do too. At the start of the summer, the company took a bridge loan from an investor in Los Angeles, and in August, CommuniGift received an angel investment from Charlotte-based investors. The founders declined to share specific dollar amounts. They plan to raise another round early in 2016.
For now the company is focused on making its impact on California, with another launch scheduled for San Francisco in the future. And despite being a company founded by four Tar Heels, Doochin says California was the right choice initially because it was such a foreign market.
“We needed to see how much is the idea and how much is our personal connections,” he says.
But just because California was the right launching pad does not mean CommuniGift is leaving North Carolina anytime soon, especially with university exams scheduled to begin shortly.
“The role of UNC has been huge in getting us here,” Doochin says. “We’d love to come back—be it Raleigh, Durham or Chapel Hill.”
*A previous version of this story stated that CommuniGift is a nonprofit. It is in fact a for-profit company.