Join us at TNW Conference 2022 for insights into the future of tech →

The heart of tech

This article was published on November 8, 2011

    Wantful is a gift giving wizard that sends a physical catalog of gift choices

    Wantful is a gift giving wizard that sends a physical catalog of gift choices
    Drew Olanoff
    Story by

    Drew Olanoff

    Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for onlin Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for online charitable movements. He founded #BlameDrewsCancer. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or email [email protected]

    If you enjoy giving gifts, you’ve probably found that trying to figure out what to get people who seemingly “have everything” is a frustrating experience.

    People at stores aren’t always helpful, unless you go into a high-end shop that loves to help you spend your money. Wantful is a site that takes the experience of a high-end shop, and makes it fun and affordable for you and your gift recipients.

    Instead of sending someone a gift card for iTunes or Best Buy, Wantful lets you hand select a catalog of gift choices to someone, with a spending limit.

    The process of putting together the catalog is almost as fun as receiving the gift.

    The gift that keeps on giving

    Wantful has a brilliantly simple design, and lets you log in with Facebook so that it can pull in all of your friend’s birthdays. Of course, you can add your own occasions, but this is a great way to get started.

    Once you choose someone to build a Wantful gift catalog for, the site asks you a series of questions about your friends or loved one. The questions are laid out with sliders and simple input boxes that only take a few minutes to fill out. What Wantful is doing is trying to narrow down the types of gifts that particular person would be interested in. It’s a really brilliant way to narrow down gift choices.

    The company has built partnerships with companies, artists, and craftspeople to make a unique selection of gifts that you won’t find in your local Macy’s.

    As you answer questions about the gift recipient, the gift choices are narrowed down and you’re given a list of gifts that might interest them. You can customize these from the full list of gifts they’ve matched to the answers of your questions. For example, since I said that Clintus craves technology, a few high-end techy watches were gift choices.

    The only downside to this service is that I can’t bring in gifts from outside of Wantful. For example, it would be nice to pull in a Kindle from Amazon as a gift option, letting Wantful’s “gift card” pay for it. I realize that the company would have to become a partner with Amazon for this more than likely, but it would be a nice touch.

    Sending your Wantful catalog

    Here’s the real difference with Wantful. The company says that it has created a new physical experience in gift giving by sending your friends a catalog printed on fine Japanese paper, with gifts to choose from. Of course these aren’t random gifts, these are the ones you’ve curated into a list. You choose the amount of money you’d like to give them, and they’re given the list of gifts that fit that price range.

    The Wantful site is still in “preview mode” but is open for business and gift giving. With investors like Harrison Metal, Greylock, Dave Morin, Dennis Crowley and Allison Pincus involved, it’s a safe bet that Wantful will be able to grow its database of gifts and partnerships. A mobile app would be a welcomed addition, too.