Q. We’ve heard that AskHerFriends was prompted by a worm farm. How exactly did this experience spark a business idea?
A. It’s true – It all started with a can of worms! Ben, our founder at AskHerFriends once bought a girlfriend a worm farm for her birthday…but they broke up not long after. He always felt like he struggled with choosing gifts for women, mainly because there was too much choice, despite his attempts to find the perfect thing. This got him thinking about the best ways to find the perfect gift.
Q. Tell us about AskHerFriends – what is the business all about?
A. The key to AskHerFriends is that we focus on the lifestyle preferences and style choice of the recipiant, so we bring together a really wide range of gifts from experts across the whole retail and service industry so that you can be guaranteed to find the right thing for her. From hampers to holidays and chocolate to proposal experts. We’ve got lots of innovative gifting ideas, and if you get stuck you can use our Idea Map where we ask you a few questions and we come up with some suggestions.
Q. How did you initially go about setting up AskHerFriends? Did you have to secure investment and if so how did you do this?
A. At first, AskHerFriends began as a site with a collection of ideas and you’d have to then visit the retailers own site to physically buy them. Nowadays, everything is available on our site itself and we’ve invested in the technology and the algorithms behind our Idea Map to ensure it comes up with the right suggestions. We sought investment via the tax relief SEIS scheme and presented the reasons why we were so keen to make impact within the gifting arena.
Q. What were your tactics for gathering support for AskHerFriends and which approach has been the most successful?
A. If you’re passionate about something, it’s always easier to wax lyrical about it to friends and everyone you meet. Essentially, we are a gifting marketplace and we have picked the sellers we work with based on them being gifting experts and really nice people. Our sellers and partnerships have supported us from the start and we’re really lucky to work with such a lovely bunch of people.
Q. Are your customers mainly UK based or have you acquired a global customer base? If so what was your strategy for achieving this?
A. At the moment, we’re just despatching to UK addresses, but we’ll expand internationally next year.
Q. For you, what has been the greatest achievement for AskHerFriends so far?
A. We actively seek customer reviews and feedback because it’s always really interesting to see how we can improve our offering. Our greatest moments are when customers visit, go through our Idea Map, buy a few things they wouldn’t ordinarily have thought of and then get in touch to say they were really pleased with the gift they’ve chosen. That type of feedback makes our day and all the effort worthwhile!
Q. What have been the main challenges you have faced in setting your business up and how did you overcome them?
A. In the very early days, when we were just getting the tech and platform built, it was really hard to communicate our vision for the future of AskHerFriends to show potential sellers and partnerships in view of them coming on-board – but we presented our ideas clearly to them face to face and haven’t looked back since.
Q. A lot of start-ups struggle to achieve their potential, what would you say has been the key to your start-up success?
A. Stick to you morals and consistently ask for people’s feedback.
Q. We see that there is an AskHisFriends on the cards! When is this likely to be live?
A. We’re excited about it too! Everyone is telling us that guys are even more difficult to buy for so we look forward to launching AskHisFriends next year and providing the full picture.
Q. What would be your top tip for success for any young entrepreneurs wishing to begin their start-up journey?
A. Do your research, meet as many other start-ups and people as possible and don’t be lonely! We worked and collaborated a lot in the early days with other start-ups in co-working spaces and went to lots of MeetUp events!
If you’re struggling to choose your office secret santa present this year check out Global Young Executive’s top 6 secret santa picks from AskHerFriends!