Wishberry.in provides services that allow customers to create a gift registry or fundraising page by filling out a simple online form on Wishberry.in, or by giving them a call. Customers can easily fill out an online form, create the page and email it back to them. Once the page is created, users can share it with their friends and family, as well as through social media and email. Friends and guests can then visit the online link and contribute any amount online, using their credit or debit card. Wishberry takes care of all the backend logistics with the NGOs.They have partnered with several marathon organizations, such as The Joy Run and Bangalore Midnight Marathon, to be their official fundraising partners. They have also partnered with nearly 20 NGOs, many big ones like Akanksha and Teach for India, as well as many smaller regional ones, like India Literacy Project and Manovikas Kendra. For the recent Mumbai Marathon, they worked on fundraising with several corporations such as Novartis and Advent Private Equity, and raised close to Rs. 30 lakhs. They have also raised another Rs. 3.5 lakhs for an NGO this year, and additionally, they have collectively raised Rs. 25 lakhs for a multitude of other NGOs.
Besides keeping a small percentage of the funds raised through their platform as operating margin, they also charge a setup fee, upfront, to their various partners. As for gift registries, they charge clients for customizations and the creation of other value added properties like wedding websites, etc. “Given our focus on ‘giving’ as a business model, we are quite cost-light and hence not very far from breaking even!” says founder, Priyanka Agarwal.
Social Impact and Marketing
The biggest social impact Wishberry creates, is converting useless and wasteful recycled gift giving into gifts for a cause. The cause could be anything from a donation to a charitable NGO to money for a couple’s dream honeymoon. Further, they create immense social impact by tapping into the space of marathon micro-donations. While most friends and supporters cannot donate lakhs, they can donate Rs. 500-1000. Their online platform captures these donors and aggregates them into large numbers via viral social media campaigns.
They have been mainly relying on word of mouth to market themselves; however, they are soon planning on investing heavily in marketing to scale up the businesses. Some of their initiatives for the gift registry business will include working with NGOs to popularize the platforms amongst donors, working with wedding planners to educate their clients, working with luxury stores to promote the concept and digital campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, and larger properties like Vogue and High Heel Confidential. For the Fundraising business, they plan to mainly focus on institutional sales for corporations and marathon organizers.
Starting Up and Initial Challenges
Priyanka Agarwal always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Even when she applied to the Management and Technology program at Wharton, her essay was about how she eventually wanted to start her own business. She started thinking about gift registries when her sister got married ten years ago, for she received a truckload of wedding gifts, even though her wedding invitations said the quintessential, ‘blessings only.’ “My sister’s wedding made me realize that there is a huge problem in the Indian gifting culture; on the one hand guests don’t know what to give, and on the other, brides hate what they get. And it even goes beyond brides, most people can remember getting a t-shirt that didn’t fit for their birthday or six bottles of Sula for their house warming party!” she says.
Wishberry.in launched its beta version in late 2010. Based in Mumbai, their team currently consists of four management members, several interns, and an outsourced accounting and web development team.
They bootstrapped most of their initial investment, mainly web development, which was quite low-cost. They got seed funding early on from a private investor who believed in their ability to execute. They are now looking to raise a Series A very soon from the VC community, to scale up both their gift registry and fundraising platforms.
“We stole office space from our families, bootstrapped laptops, and hired a bunch of cheap college interns,” Priyanka tells YourStory candidly. “Honestly, our biggest challenge is infrastructure. Payment gateways in India are terrible; at least 20% of my transactions fail due to silly reasons. That’s the biggest hurdle I think. Besides that, I would say cultural stereotypes of not asking for what you want!” she adds.
What certainly makes them happy is that the wedding industry was recently quoted to be worth Rs. 190,000 crores. Even if a small sliver of that is gifting, the opportunity for Wishberry is huge!