New collaborative gifting platform Joyable is looking to shake up how we group-purchase gifts. Co-founders (and sisters) Rochelle Sheldon and Kimberley Crossman explain how their latest venture works.
Joyable (not to be confused with the social anxiety-reducing app of the same name) is a somewhat left-field move for co-founder Rochelle Sheldon. Having spent the better part of a decade working in all things branding and social media with agencies like Socialites and Bloggers Club, Sheldon’s latest venture isn’t exactly targeted at influencers or brands, but anyone and everyone who’s ever had to buy a random shitty gift.
Sheldon says the idea for Joyable first came to her last Christmas when it was decided, as a family, that there’d be no individual gifts. Instead, there’d be one big family gift – a trip to Fiji on Boxing Day – which saw everyone chip in for a collective experience.
“[Compare that] to April last year when I found a box of unused Christmas presents the kids had opened but forgotten about [the year before]. They just get so much stuff from everyone… it’s Christmas overwhelm.
“So I started thinking: ‘how can we put more value on experiences and on the wellbeing of people and the planet?’ And from that, Joyable was born.”
In a nutshell, Joyable is a collaborative gifting hub that allows people to pay their share of a gift via the Joyable platform – a user simply has to create the gift page and share the link to everyone involved. Joyable then keeps a record of everyone who contributes and how much, with that money only getting released to the page’s creator at a certain release date so they can go and actually purchase that gift.
“It’s kind of like the Givealittle of gifting – you just create a gift page and people can easily contribute funds towards the desired gift,” says Sheldon. “That might be horse-riding lessons for my 12-year-old’s birthday rather than just random token gifts… Or if you’re setting it up for one of your friends, you might already know that they’d like gold bangle for their 30th so everyone can contribute towards that. [I could even use it] for my wedding registry.”
Including Sheldon, who masterminded Joyable from the start, the business has a total of four co-founders. There’s Belinda Nash, a blogger and content creator who’s written for websites like Spy and nzgirl.co.nz; Igor Anany, CEO at 7 Glyphs, a mobile and web development studio based in Auckland; and actress Kimberley Crossman, who’s starred in Shortland Street, Funny Girls and is also Sheldon’s younger sister.
This isn’t the first time the two sisters have worked together. Back when Crossman first started her career with Shortland Street in the late 2000s, it was Sheldon who helped the fledgling actress build a brand outside her role as Sophie McKay, helping to create a website and negotiate brand deals in a pre-social media, pre-influencer marketing era.
“I’ve worked with my sister quite a lot and I know she always puts in 110%… We work quite well together too so it was kind of a no brainer [to get involved with Joyable],” Crossman says on the phone from Los Angeles where she’s just finished filming a small role in Merry Happy Whatever, an upcoming Netflix show starring Dennis Quaid.
“When Rochelle gave me the elevator pitch, it seemed like a great idea. My first reaction was surprise that it hadn’t been done before!
“I could see how this could make life a lot easier for people, myself included… It definitely solves a problem we have in our family – a lot of us are scattered all over the globe and getting gifts for people can be [difficult], especially around Christmas.”
While it costs nothing to create a gift page on Joyable, every person who contributes will be charged a $3.50 service fee which will serve as the company’s main source of revenue. For example, if 10 people contributed to a gift via Joyable, then Joyable would receive $35. It’s a common way of earning money for platforms like Givealittle and GoFundMe, but it remains to be seen whether users will embrace the added cost on a more micro-scale, particularly when the practice of collaborative gift giving using bank transfers or cash already exists. Furthermore, each transaction includes a credit card transaction fee (2.9%) which will further bump up costs for users.
Essentially, Joyable is banking on its ease of use and convenience to outweigh any financial barrier. It’s quick and easy to use, particularly when it deals with large groups of people such as guests for a wedding, and has additional features which Joyable hopes will add to the convenience, such as an RSVP function and space for individuals to leave personalised messages.
“It’s like donating money… it’s just doing it for a gift for someone you care about with a smaller group of people,” says Crossman. “In anything that I donate to, there’s always a service fee attached. In my opinion, I don’t imagine that $3.50 is a huge issue for the convenience of doing something. If people [have a problem] with it I’d be very surprised.”
“I think we’re very transparent about there being a service fee. That’s how we’re creating a business so I don’t anticipate it being a huge roadblock.”
Sheldon adds that as time goes on, the business will look to add more revenue streams and more customisable features. “[But] at the moment, we’re a minimum viable product,” she says. “We’ve funded this ourselves so I’ve had to strip back some of the things I wanted, but they’ll be back on the list once we prove the concept and actually have some data on who’s using it and how they’re using it.
“And then? The big vision is to go global.”
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.