Rochelle Sheldon introduces her start-up Joyable, an online platform which allows people to contribute as a group to bigger, more meaningful gifts or experiences. It eliminates the unnecessary waste and spending that comes with present shopping.
We’ve all been there before on Christmas or a birthday: what do you buy your significant other, Mum, Dad, best friend, brother or sister when you’re scraping the barrel for ideas and will probably just end up buying yet another expensive Glasshouse candle or a sweary self-help book to add to the collection? (I’m looking at you, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck).
Or even worse, something that barely leaves an impression on the person it’s given to and will just be regifted or chucked out?
Enter Joyable. The company allows people to pitch in together for meaning and memorable gifts or bucket list experiences for their loved ones. Think a crowdfunding website, but for presents.
Co-founder Rochelle Sheldon says the idea for Joyable came from wanting to change up the traditional Christmas experience of buying everyone a present, which they may not even use.
“Mid-last year after finding a box of my kids’ Christmas presents gathering dust in my garage – unwrapped but unopened – I knew things had to change and I was the one to lead it,” Sheldon says.
“My ah-ha moment came when last Christmas, we ditched presents altogether (we still had presents from Santa) and instead the whole family contributed to all of us going to Fiji together for a holiday. It was magical, and I thought, ‘Imagine if other families want to end the hideous cycle of buying presents that have no emotional connection and instead come together to buy something really special someone actually wants?’ And so the seed for Joyable was sown.”
Sheldon is no stranger to helping brands grow. She has previously been the 2IC for other women’s businesses, and was recently executive coaching CEO and director of influence at social media marketing company Socialites. Over her time in the digital space, she has facilitated over $4 million in brand deals, helping New Zealand influencers earn an impressive six-plus figures.
However, after supporting others, she wanted to take the leap, back herself and start her own venture. The timing happened to be right in 2019 for Joyable to launch, and joining her as co-founders are her sister and actress Kimberley Crossman, Belinda Nash and Igor Anany.
“People are already clubbing together to purchase gifts or fund parties and events together, but have to share their bank account details or give cash – like for wishing wells at weddings, or contributing to hens dos, or buying a 21st or 50th present,” Sheldon says.
“It was time for technology to own this space. While technically people could set up a Givealittle or Gofundme page for life’s milestone events, it didn’t sound so Joyable to us to add to your wedding invitation.”
It’s a clever market play, considering a study has found that 72 percent of Millennials would rather open their wallets to experiences than material items. Meanwhile, in the US, there’s been a major shift in spending, with 4x more money devoted to experiences rather than physical goods.
Sheldon says the main competition for Joyable in the market is people to sticking to their old habits of buying a gift for a group, sending their bank account details to people to transfer them the money owed, and then waiting while it painstakingly trickles in.
“At Joyable we have removed the awkwardness and hassle out of paying towards a shared gift and make it Joyable,” she says.
“Other platforms like Givealittle have a similar model, but they target people giving to alleviate tragedy and trauma, or focus on community fund raising. We just do joy. Think weddings, engagements, Christmas gifts and parties, hen and stag dos, graduation gifts and celebrations, birthdays and religious milestones, anniversaries.
“We’ve even used it in my family to purchase WOOP Christmas meal box together so no one gets stung with the entire food bill. Plus it has an RSVP function so we know who’s committed to coming.”
The other sector of the market Joyable targets is people who are mindful of the waste created by gift-giving, or those who feel under a lot of financial pressure when it comes to a festive and expensive time of year, like Christmas.
“People can’t always afford to give what they really want to give, so are forced to buy cheaper items that lack meaning,” Sheldon says. “Then there is the added cost of buying wrapping paper, a card, then perhaps a courier bag and postage.
“We believe in giving the purchasing power back into the hands of the recipient so they can buy a memorable, meaningful gift they’ll cherish forever, whether it’s an artwork, a tattoo, a neon sign, or something intangible, like an experience – bungee jump, ziplining adventure, a honeymoon or dance, rock climbing or piano lessons.
“We’re also wanting to end the cycle of people having to buy more and more stuff that’s ending up in landfill.”
The process works as follows: one person creates a Joyable event or occasion, then invites friends and family to contribute funds via a unique URL. After everyone has contributed, the fundraiser or the recipient receives all the funds three to five days after the end date into the nominated bank account. As many people as you want can contribute, but each account that receives the funds is moderated and verified to ensure security is kept tight.
Joyable charges a $3.50 service fee for each transaction of funds that are gifted. There is also an RSVP function that can be turned on for occasions, such as knowing who will be attending a birthday party and want to contribute to a present.
Since launching in October, Sheldon says there’s been several challenges faced along the way. The first was having to pour over anti-money laundering laws pre-launch.
“I read the entire legislation over and over because our lawyers warned we couldn’t do it. But it was my job as CEO to make it work, so I did… and we can absolutely do it.”
The other was finding part of the technology wasn’t working optimally just as they were about to launch Joyable, which meant the tech team had to quickly make some radical alterations.
“We had a week of media scheduled with one of our founders, my sister Kimberley Crossman who had flown in for three days from LA. Our tech team said wait, I said ‘No, we’re launching!’ They worked around the clock to make radical changes. I went into crisis comms mode telling people as they registered to wait a few days before creating a Joyable occasion.
“But it was great for me because it gave me a chance to get to know them and what they were going to use Joyable for. So whilst it was nerve racking for a few hours pacing my kitchen, the hardest moment turned out to be one of the best.”
Joyable is currently only able to be used in New Zealand currency, but Sheldon says the next step is marketing the new company to build up its user base, alongside seeking investment to roll out the platform into Australia and the US.
She says the team want to build a community of ‘Joymakers’, as well as looking to collaborate with other brands, creatives and not-for-profit organisations.
“We have launched our Joyable Fund which is all about supporting wellbeing for people and the planet, so lots to grow there,” she says.
For every person who uses Joyable, money will be contributed to the charitable Joyable Fund, which will fund projects across the globe that help people and the planet.
She says the focus is to look at new and innovative ways to create joy and enhance lives through connection and celebration.
“The planet cannot sustain our hyper consumerism. It’s time to pull it back and returning gift giving to a joyful, positive place in a way that doesn’t harm the planet.”
This story originally appeared on Idealog.