Olivia Knight: The woman who used her honeymoon to launch a gift giving startup

Where did the idea come from?

The idea for Patchwork Present was an accident really. It started out as a website I created to fund my own honeymoon and it sort of grew from there.

What's your story and how did you create Patchwork?

I’m guessing you want the short one? I live in Brockley South East London with my lovely husband and two kids. I spent 10 years as a brand consultant, then two years creating campaigns for an environmental charity before starting Patchwork Present 9 months ago. 

What is Patchwork Present? 

Patchwork Present is a website that lets people get together to collectively fund one big gift – piece by piece. 

You can use our site to organise a present for any occasion, for yourself or for someone else. 

It’s a simple, fun and creative way to collect money from friends and family all over the word to spend locally on one special gift. 

How does it work?

It’s a bit like a traditional whip around really. You’re essentially collecting cash from friends towards one big gift or experience. 

Lots of people use our site as an alternative to a traditional wedding list. Most couples don’t want lots of department store stuff and instead want to ask their guests to contribute towards their honeymoon fund. 

They use our site to show their dream honeymoon as a patchwork of individual experiences, so friends and family can choose which part of the trip they want to treat them to – £100 for a night in a hotel, £50 for a fishing trip or £5 for a couple of beers on the beach. 

We’re not affiliated to any travel agents or retailers, contributions just go straight to your PayPal account for you to spend how and where you like. 

And when you’ve bought your present or are on your honeymoon you can send thank you emails, with photos of you enjoying your gift, to the specific people who funded each piece.

Did you always want to run your own business?

No. I never thought I’d be a business woman. But I’ve always been interested in enterprise, in creativity, in innovation, in problem solving. I’m not interested in business in general but I’m interested in a particular kind of business that has principles, that provides a product or service that is truly useful and that helps people and our planet and not just itself. 

I suppose what really excited me about the idea for Patchwork Present was that it was a business that wasn’t trying to sell people stuff! 

I am really excited by the fact that we can help people get the things they really want and need and at the same time keep unwanted gifts out of landfill.

What's your business model?

It’s free to set up a Patchwork Present. We make our money through a 3% commission on contributions that come through the site.

How have you grown your brand?

We’ve not got any marketing budget really. So it’s been PR and word of mouth. It’s an idea that really seems to resonate right now. And our users say lovely things so that helps.

What was the biggest barrier you’ve come across?

Indecision. The hardest part was making the decision to start the company and then actually quitting my job and doing it! I had so many sleepless nights. It’s a very scary step but once you make the decision and stop dithering you feel crazy and much more in control.  

What's the best advice you've been given?

It will take 3 times longer than you think. Plan for that.

How would you describe your experience as a business founder?

I have learnt a lot. I think I’ve always known myself and my strengths and weaknesses so from the beginning I made sure I put together a great team. You can’t do everything. You don’t have to be an expert at everything. It’s impossible. Just make sure you have good people around you that are.

When did you realise the potential of Patchwork Present?

When I cobbled together the initial site for my own wedding and all our friends loved it and wanted to know which company I had used.  

Have you always had an interest in gift giving?

Yes absolutely. Giving is one of the things that makes us unique as humans. We show our love through the gifts we give. I really think we should make them count.

You can find out more about Patchwork Present by visiting the website or giving them a follow on Twitter!  

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