Mumpreneurs, Ali Linz and Julie Tylman's are revolutionising the way Australians are gifting with a website that takes the hassle out of collecting for a group gift. In the last year, over 10,000 Australians have enjoyed the ease of it and the way it takes the awkwardness out of collecting money.
GroupTogether doesn't sell gifts. The user-friendly platform does the inviting, reminding, collecting, tracking and then sends the money and group card to the organiser. It makes it easy to pool funds to give one gift that's really wanted without the waste. Friends can also add a photo and message to the group car. For those who want to 'give back", there's the option to donate a portion of the gift pool to your favourite charity.
Julie Tylman, ex-banker, explains: 'Ali and I have seven children combined. We met for coffee one day after a weekend of ferrying kids to and from birthday parties. We were exhausted from the driving, parking, buying, wrapping gifts, drop offs and pick-ups involved in attending kid's parties. We were also gob- smacked at the amount of money we had spent (7 kids' x 2 parties' x $20ish gifts + wrapping & card) only to find out that the birthday kids either already had the gifts, were given multiple copies of the gifts or didn't love them."
Ali Linz, ex-marketing strategist, continues: 'As well as cutting out the waste, we also felt that there was an opportunity to create a culture of mindful giving. That's why we made it easy to donate a bit of the group gift to charity so kids can learn the joy of giving back."
Tylman remembers that on one of her children's milestone birthdays, he received 6 sets of headphones, 5 mini speakers and 10 bottles of aftershave. She knows that her son's friends received similar gifts. This was a lightbulb moment for her. It drove her to develop an easy way to cut out the waste and replace it with one great gift a birthday child will truly love, a card that's actually worth keeping and a small donation to share their good fortune with others.
The Mumpreneurs behind GroupTogether have found a way to cut out the waste associated with giving gifts by making it easy for friends to chip in for a group gift and to hopefully share a bit of it too. They like to think of GroupTogether as Mindful Giving.
Question: What is GroupTogether?
Ali Linz and Julie Tylman: A philanthropic, eco-friendly, and insanely easy way to take the hassle and waste out of giving group gifts. It's an online platform that sends invitations, collects money, sends polite reminders, creates a group card, tracks responses and transfers the funds.
Question: What inspired the concept of GroupTogether?
Ali Linz and Julie Tylman: A few years ago, we caught up for coffee after a weekend of ferrying kids to and from birthday parties. We were exhausted from the driving, parking, buying, wrapping (don't forget the card!), drop offs (don't forget the pressie!) and pick-ups (go back and get your jumper!) involved in attending kids parties. We were also gob smacked at the amount of money we had spent (7 kids x 2 parties x $20ish gifts + wrapping & card) only to find out that the birthday kids either; already had the gifts, were given multiple copies of the gifts or didn't like them.
This was our light bulb moment. Instead of all the duplicated and unwanted gifts (and garbage bags full of party paraphernalia), what if we could get the other parents to chip-in for one great gift that the birthday child really wanted and a give a card that was actually worth keeping.
We also felt that there was an opportunity with this service to create a culture of mindful giving. That's why we made it easy to donate a bit of the group gift to charity so kids can learn the joy of giving back
Question: What is Mindful Giving?
Ali Linz and Julie Tylman: The combination of all of our light bulb moments. Giving one great gift rather than disposable gifts; cutting out the waste and making it easy to donate a bit of the group gift to charity.
Question: Can you talk about the issues you'd experienced when collecting for a group gift?
Ali Linz and Julie Tylman: We could go on forever - it's awkward, embarrassing, and sometimes you feel like you're stalking people. There's the initial, awkward ask for money, then the endless and embarrassing follow ups… chasing people for money, remembering who gave what, and tracking down nameless bank transfers which inevitably end with the organiser being out of pocket because they chip in for someone else. That's why it was critical to us to create a service that is easy to use, quick to setup and then does all the management for you.
Question: How does GroupTogether cut the waste of multiple presents?
Ali Linz and Julie Tylman: That's the beauty of the platform, by getting the other parents to chip in for ONE group gift, you automatically eliminate the waste. When a parent blindly enters a toy store (even taking into account gender and age), they don't know what the birthday child wants. So, unless you happen to be a gift whisperer, you take a big chance on what you purchase.
Question: Can you share with us the success of GroupTogether since its launch?
Ali Linz and Julie Tylman: We are doing really well. Our organisers love us and our contributors trust us. Over 11,000 people have contributed $700,000 toward group collections and donated almost $110,000 of that to charities and causes.
Question: How does the charity component of GroupTogether work?
Ali Linz and Julie Tylman: When someone sets up a collection, one of the questions we ask is whether you want to donate a percentage of the collection to charity. The organiser chooses the percentage and the charity or cause. Then we do the rest. We manage the gift collection and donation amounts separately and transfer the donation directly to the charity. But, we don't stop there, we also make sure that there is a personal connection between the charity and the donor so that they understand the impact that their donation has made.
Question: What's been the best part about creating your own business?
Ali Linz and Julie Tylman: Having each other to bounce ideas off of, commiserate with and, of course, celebrate with. Inevitably when one of us is feeling like nothing is working, the other goes into cheerleader mode.
Question: What's next for GroupTogether?
Ali Linz and Julie Tylman: We are all about meeting the needs of our organiser's communities. We want to expand from collecting for group gifts for kids and parents into the corporate community (farewells, get wells, retirements) and also into collecting money for other events like reunions, hens/bucks nights, and school fundraising events.
Interview by Brooke Hunter