Giving the perfect gift is far from an easy task. In fact, an estimated $15 billion is wasted on unwanted gifts each year, resulting in hundreds of tons of additional waste in landfills and incinerators.
Sophomore business major Julie Arnette has set out to remedy this issue. She and Juan Pèrez have created Celebrate, an online platform that makes it easier than ever to give purposeful gifts.
“I’m actually a terrible gift-giver,” said Arnette, one of Celebrate’s two co-founders. “I never know what to buy and I always wait until the last minute. I think [gift-giving] is so difficult— and kind of unnecessarily difficult— but I love giving gifts. That’s kind of where this idea started.”
The fix? Personalized interest boards which friends and family can view to find a gift idea that the recipient is guaranteed to love.
Arnette and her team have been working on Celebrate for just over a year. In that time, they have won the audience choice award at the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (CIE) annual Elevator Pitch Competition and joined the CIE Hatchery.
The Hatchery, a CIE program designed to help students develop their startup ideas, has been an extremely beneficial resource in building Celebrate. According to Arnette, the guidance offered through the Hatchery has been paramount for Celebrate’s success.
“The mentorship is super valuable,” Arnette said. “They [mentors] provide so much feedback and a different perspective to your business than you can come up with on your own.”
The Hatchery has also introduced Arnette to a community of student entrepreneurs who have acted as a support network through the highs and lows of building a company.
“Having that support and knowing that there are other people going through the same exact thing that you’re doing, like figuring out what you want your business to be and how you’ll get there — I think that’s important,” Arnette said.
Celebrate has recently launched their new landing page, which provides what Arnette describes as “a snapshot of the company in a few pages.” Through the site, users can sign up for Celebrate’s limited beta testing or register to receive their company newsletter.
Now, with their landing page up and running, the Celebrate team is shifting their attention to prepare for Innovation Quest, a prototyping competition hosted by the CIE. They are also continuing to develop their product and enhance their knowledge of Celebrate’s customer base.
“Our mountaintop is getting to the place where we understand exactly when people are having those rough days or when their birthdays are coming up, using data to figure out when they could use a little pick-me-up gift and communicating that to their gift-givers,” Arnette explained. “That way, people are giving the right gift at the right time.”