It’s already started. All across our fine land office workers are hunting for white elephant gifts and clamoring for a proper Nerf gun. Something capable of nailing that guy all the way back in accounting. At the same time many families are finding Secret Santa exchanges to be more fun in addition to being well-suited for our times. Thanks to Peter Imburg, all interested parties have an elegant digital assistant at the ready to help coordinate their plans. Elfster’s the name. Secret Santa the game.
Peter Imburg, CEO of Elfster, how did you come up with this idea?
After getting married, our extended families were growing. My wife and I decided to keep life simple by doing a Secret Santa. While the concept seemed great, the reality for my wife and sister who organized the Secret Santa was quite different. It was really complicated! It was then I decided to create Elfster: something to make our lives easier and which could put a modern twist on the time honored tradition of Secret Santa gift exchanges and group gift giving.
How’s the Secret Santa Business?
Business is booming. As word spreads virally we are seeing exponential growth year over year, including this year, as we see more people looking to gift exchanges as a way to simplify and save – while at the same time enjoy the spirit of the holiday with their different groups.
Who and how many are taking advantage of Elfster?
Over 1 million people will use Elfster this year. Our audience is primarily comprised of busy families as well as office colleagues, friends, and online communities such as Facebook, Twitter and Second Life friends. When people think of where they can organize a group gift exchange online, we are their go-to source. So we are fortunate in that we have a high ceiling for growth for our community.
Is it free?
Yes, Elfster is free for users.
How do you make money?
Our revenue model is through advertising, partnerships, and the programs and services we provide for our retail partners. A few current examples include powering a Secret Santa service for fashion accessories and jewelry retailer Claire’s, and a partnership with IAC’s Gifts.com to bring their shopping, content, and gift recommendations to the Elfster community.
Does this business have a life beyond the holidays?
There is certainly seasonality in our business around the holidays. Nonetheless, we most definitely are active and lively year round. In general, we focus on providing services and tools that make group giving easy, fun, and social. For example, as we speak, we are early in production on a service that will help a group of people chip in on a gift for one of the group members (for showers, birthdays, weddings, etc.).
I found some great gift ideas on your blog. What else should we know about Elfster?
In addition to our blog “Wish Fulfillment,” one of Elfster’s most popular features is the Wishlist – where are community can set their gift lists and give great hints to all their Secret Santas. They can also chat amongst their group using our discussion tool, asking questions and seeking suggestions about gifts and all things holiday. Elfster is about feeling the joy in giving and getting the perfect present, and it is in that spirit that we’ve created each of these features and tools.
Check out the Gift Ideas on Elfster's Blog
Follow Elfster on Twitter
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com