Featured Startup Pitch: Born out of a college entrepreneurship class, Gifts Utopia was built to make gift giving a less stressful process

By Editor January 12, 2015

Ben Clark, Gifts UtopiaBy Ben Clark, Gifts Utopia co-founder and CEO


Ever struggle to find a gift or forget an important date where you needed a gift? With Gifts Utopia, gift giving will never be easier. We take the hassle and stress out of finding gifts with our service that will help you find that perfect gift.


The service is simple to use, thus taking the hassle and stress out of shopping during the holidays or any time of year. A user simply logs on and fills out a profile for the recipient. Questions are asked about their likes, dislikes, hobbies and personality traits. The answers to those questions are then run through the algorithm and then matched with the attributes of the gifts in the database. This program allows gift giving to be an easy process that doesn’t take much time. Not only does it offer a stress-free way of buying gifts, but it takes the stress away from remembering all different occasions.

Your profile on Gifts Utopia can be set up in a way that will send you reminders about special holidays and/or occasions. If you sent your wife flowers for your anniversary, wouldn’t it be nice not only to be reminded about your anniversary, but by one click of a button have flowers purchased in advance to ensure they are there on that special day? This is the objective of Gifts Utopia—to put the pressures of gift giving aside by making the process simple and to help the purchaser find a unique gift for every person on their list.


Some classes in college are full of boring homework and class projects that make you wonder if you will ever use it in the ‘real world.’ At Trine University, a small engineering school located in Northeast Indiana, five students were lucky enough to encounter a class project that not only applied to the real world but also would turn out to offer us ‘real world’ jobs.

Scott Fergusson, the professor of the Entrepreneurship and Venture Planning class at Trine, had a different approach to class. In his class during the semester the students were asked to create a business, write a business plan, and in the end pitch it to an investing group. The project intrigued the five seniors: Joe Adams, James Green, Dani (Pearson) King, Ben Witter, and I.

That is when the idea of Gifts Utopia was born. Our idea of a gift giving service was all theory at first, until we did some research. After market research was complete, it was found that there are a large number of people who have trouble buying gifts for loved ones. Not only did they have trouble finding the perfect gift, but almost everyone they encountered had forgotten a loved one’s birthday or anniversary—and the list goes on. Gifts Utopia is working on creating a unique algorithm in which gifts will be selected by attributes that match between each gift and its recipient.

All the ideas about Gifts Utopia were great, but without funding or knowledge about computer programming we were stuck. Thankfully, Trine University had engineering resources that would prove beneficial. The next step had us entering the school’s inaugural Innovation One Challenge. This was a competition to help foster entrepreneurship within the university and surrounding area. In that competition, we were able to take home first place in the business idea category. With even more validation of the idea, we knew that it was time to pursue this business fully.

We then turned to Robert Clark, entrepreneur-in-residence at Elevate Venture about getting funding to build the idea. Clark was able to direct us to Elevate Ventures’ High Potential Start-Up Grant. This is a fund to help pre-revenue companies in Indiana obtain funding to get off the ground. Armed with this knowledge and guidance, we applied and worked through the process of obtaining the funding. During that process, the company was formed into a LLC in the state of Indiana.


With being in the early stages, we are working mostly on word-of-mouth and press releases. As we grow, we will expand to the traditional advertising strategies.


Our target market for this service is male professionals in an upper income bracket, who range from 35-to-65 years-of-age. To reach our five year goal, we need to acquire a little over 100,000 customers, or about 1.02 percent of the market.


Most gifts are bought from just a person going to the store and looking around. This can be time consuming traveling from store-to-store. Maybe you do it online. That requires knowing what to get, and you take the risk of getting the wrong thing. With Gifts Utopia, we take the information given to us and help the person figure out the perfect gift. Also with the reminders, the person will know that the gift will be there on time—getting the perfect gift without leaving the comfort of your home.


Our business model is a subscription fee for either a month at a time or a full year. We will also get revenue from the companies that we send business through in the form of an affiliate fee.


Currently, Gifts Utopia has reached the pre-launch stage. This is an opportunity for potential customers to sign up to receive more information when the company officially launches. Customers can go to www.giftsutopia.com and sign up.

For more information about the company, please contact us by email at [email protected].

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GiftsUtopia logoHEADQUARTERS: Fort Wayne, Indiana

WEBSITE: www.giftsutopia.com

FOUNDERS: Ben Clark, James Green, Dani King, Ben Witter


TWITTER: @Gifts_Utopia

LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/company/gifts-utopia