CommuniGift was founded by UNC students Bernstein, Doochin, and Sharp. The holiday season was an integral part of their childhood's growing up and they felt everyone should have the ability to experience the holidays as they did. The sophomore trio began work on the idea earlier this year after realizing the need for a streamlined online giving site. Expanding on the original goal of simplifying the "Angel Tree" giving model, the group realized more families could be supported indirectly through affiliate revenue. The CommuniGift team has moved from dorm room workspace to 1789 Venture Lab, an incubator space located in the heart of Chapel Hill where they have received mentoring from some of the most knowledgeable entrepreneurs and innovators within the UNC community.
Beginning in September, the CommuniGift team started building a site they hoped to launch by the 2013 holiday season. The site would have minimal features but it was to be used as a test and to show potential partners nationwide that the model worked. In early December, CommuniGift went live. On the first day of the hard launch, CommuniGift received 506 page hits with 56 gifts purchased for families in need. The team partnered with four non-profit agencies across the country to list families while also adding two corporate sponsors.
Our goal is to harness person-to-person giving to create connections between people of different classes and demographic groups. Building off platforms that help crowdfund solutions such as Kiva and Global Giving, we want to solve problems by developing a sustained relationship between donors and families that goes beyond the holiday season. Our vision is to build a venture that makes giving easy and enjoyable throughout the year.