Interview With Linsay Moran
Describe your product or service:
“Unwrapit is a relationship-building platform offering an alternative to traditional corporate gifting, at any scale. Using Unwrapit, businesses and event planners can give gifts through our digital, personalized, and sustainable gift experience. We can help maximize an organization’s sustainability goals by offering low/no-waste gifts and minimize their logistic efforts as the challenge of procuring, ordering, and sending physical items is negated. Through our platform, the gift recipient is invited to a fun and memorable unwrapping experience. In it they can choose a gift that resonates most with them, creating a meaningful connection to cement the relationship between them and the brand giving the gift.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We believe that giving gifts and making a positive impact can be one and the same. That reaching out, saying thank you, and providing an experience of a lifetime can be seamless. That receiving corporate gifts doesn't have to feel corporate at all. That gifting can be meaningful and sustainable.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“Bootstrapped to date.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“We are a team of three co-founders and are excited to welcome our first full-time team member this fall! Peter and Linsay are based in Toronto, and Taylan is in Barcelona. We are all parents, and we care deeply about making the planet a better place for our children.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“Our co-founder story is an interesting one. We met through LinkedIn, [and] we are an official ‘LinkedIn is the greatest networking tool’ success story. Peter (Deitz) put out a call for two co-founders in mid-2020. An initial concept of Unwrapit existed at that time, but he realized he needed a co-founding collaborative and didn't want to go it alone as a solopreneur. Both Linsay and Taylan saw the post through secondary postings within their network and reached out to Peter. Over pandemic Zoom chats and socially distanced coffee meetings, the co-founding team came together officially in October 2020.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“Peter (Deitz) came up with the concept of a gifting platform amongst several business ideas he contemplated over several years. He comes from the world of social impact and felt that there had to be a better way to give gifts with less eco-footprint. The idea originated as a C2C business, but he quickly realized that wasn't going to have the necessary impact and began to consider a B2B option. When we came together in October 2020, we took on product interviews and consulted those in our network, with an overwhelmingly positive response. That gave us the confidence to go forward, knowing that things will evolve and change but that generally, the concept of non-physical gifting, delivered in a unique way, was something [to] flush out further. Our MVP launched in spring 2021.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“One of our advisors, Kunle Bristow, gets the credit for our name! Peter and he were brainstorming options one day, and Kunle declared it had to be, ‘something simple, like ... Unwrapit!’”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“Our biggest challenge continues to be honing in on our market. The product truly is a solution for so many use-cases. As a result, we continue to refine our focus to ensure we are speaking first to the early adopters and ‘forward-thinking’ individuals who can benefit most from Unwrapit in our early days.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Our product is for forward-thinkers who need to offer gifts to a group of individuals. They may be an event planner giving to event attendees, an HR manager gifting to their team, or a sales director wanting to connect uniquely and authentically to potential leads. Someone who is sustainably-minded will see the immediate benefit of Unwrapit and be motivated to use it as a "no brainer" solution and a replacement for physical gifts.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“‘We need a better one!’ [is said by] many startup founders! Up until now, the earned media we've garnered has really supported our efforts. A search for "digital corporate gifting" on Google generally brings people our way. We launched a new website at the time of our MVP launch, and that really helped to distill our messaging and offering. Currently, Peter and I (Linsay) devote about 20% of our time to marketing efforts, including social media content creation, podcast interviews, earned media, event participation, and networking. We are an aspiring BCorp and a member of 1% for the Planet. We have found being engaged in social impact networks like these invaluable, given the fact the others within the network are similarly minded.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“So far, the majority of our customers find us online, through word of mouth (our network), and we're starting to see some referral work coming our way.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“It's still very early days for us, so it's mostly qualitative vs. quantitative. We want to ensure we're focusing on the product and making it the best it can be. Our quantitative goals currently are within our sales pipeline, things like conversion rate and keeping a close eye on our sales cycle. And, of course, we have goals in place for MRR. As an aspiring B Corp, our metrics are guided by ‘people and planet’ first.”
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“Currently, we are enjoying ‘Obviously Awesome’ by April Dunford as a co-founding team. We're taking turns listening to the audiobook and working through her templates — practical advice on product positioning, no fluff. A favourite of mine that isn't about entrepreneurship per se is ‘The Book of Awesome’ by Neil Pasricha. It is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, and I keep it near my desk for those needed middle-of-the-day laughs!”
What is your favorite startup or business podcast?
“I'm a fan of HBR, and I recently just started listening to their podcast (‘HBR IdeaCast’).”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“Even though this is my first venture into entrepreneurship personally, I've worked closely alongside three founders/entrepreneurs at different times in my career. In most cases, as their 'right hand' for many of the day-to-day tough parts. So I saw a lot of that, and I feel fortunate that, as a result, I knew what to expect. Nothing has surprised me so far, but I'm sure that will change over time.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“This is a tough one as I'm also the parent of two young children, and we started Unwrapit during a global pandemic! I used to be a ‘work 12+ hours a day’ person, and I've realized over time that approach doesn't serve me or my family well. And we (as co-founders) don't want to build a business like that either. It's not sustainable. We know that inevitably family and work-life will intertwine, and that's okay. I've learned that I am most successful when I plan out my time. It's not always perfect, and the best-laid plans get waylaid, but planning helps.”
How do you stay motivated?
“Talking to people! 99% of conversations about Unwrapit are so positive. We know we're on to something special, and it's motivating to know that.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“They're still developing. [I’m] learning boundaries to better manage my time and my life. I think the pandemic shifted mindsets for most of us, and I'm still unpacking some of that. It definitely forced me to think more about celebrating the small wins and embrace a ‘progress over perfection’ type of mindset.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“It feels a bit early to answer that, but at the moment, I'd say that I'm most proud of the decision to become an entrepreneur. I've witnessed the reality of being an entrepreneur first hand, having been involved in several owner-led/operated businesses, and it's not easy!”
More on Unwrapit
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Linsay Moran of Unwrapit that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.