Interview With Wisegifter Creators Bessie And Kyle Crum

by Anil Polat · 3 comments

Authors of the travel blog On Our Own Path, Bessie and Kyle Crum recently released Wisegifter, a Web service you can use to finance your non-material gift wishes. Kyle and Bessie were kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions about what Wisegifter is, how it works, and everything you can do with it.

How does Wisegifter work?

It’s a gift list for your dreams. For example, your dream trip is an adventure trip to Guatemala. Instead of birthday or Christmas gifts that come in a box, you can create a gift list for hiking a volcano, white-water rafting, and a sunrise trek on the ruins in Tikal. Friends and family can give money to support those memorable gifts, and the cash goes straight to your bank account (via PayPal).


Are there limitations on what you can request for a gift?

Gifts are anything you want to! Users add all sorts of creative gifts from hiking Everest to marathon registration fees to support for racing across Mongolia and other great life experiences. One user is going to volunteer in Nicaragua, and has raised over $4,000 so far to pay for everything from bricks to build a school to paying her host family.

How does the billing work – say I give my friend a rafting gift costing $150?

After checking out and signing a gift card, you’ll make a secure transaction via PayPal. Choose between using a credit card or your PayPal account. Your friend receives the gift directly from PayPal, as soon as they complete the transaction – it’s a direct transfer from you to your friend. Your friend pays PayPal 2-3%, and will receive an invoice from us for 4%. So, it’s completely free to sign up and make a gift list. We only make money when we’ve helped you further your dreams.

on our own pathWhat’s the best way for someone to use the site and send their gift wishes to friends and family?

The gift list is fun to set up. You can upload photos and add descriptions for any gifts you wish. To get the word out, most users email friends and family or put a link on their website with a description: “I’m turning 30, and I’m finally going to Buenos Aires!” or “For Christmas this year, help me save for my road trip.” It’s a nice way to say, “I don’t need socks or a coffee table book, can you help me with my dreams?”

The responses with gifts are usually, “I’m so jealous. I can’t wait to see pictures!”

Where did the idea for Wisegifter come from?

The site grew from our own dreams to backpack from Mexico to Argentina. Since we were going to be moving around a lot, we didn’t have a whole lot of need for physical stuff, but people wanted to help us in our dream to travel the world. Other sites we found cost too much for our small budget, were full of ads, or didn’t work well, so Kyle built a site from scratch that allowed our friends and family to get us gifts for kayaking trips, a night stay at a fancy hotel of our choice, and money to travel. In the last year we’ve taken it to a whole new level, and we’re happy to see it helping other people’s dreams come true. After 2.5 years, we’re still traveling, and it started with our own gift list.

What does Wisegifter run on and how did you create it?

Kyle writes his code from scratch using Ruby on Rails. Since he built it from the ground up, it allows us to have the flexibility to do anything we want with it. It is a language that also allows for a lot of quick changes so when things need to change on the site, it can be done really quickly.

Bessie uses Gimp for logo and image design, and she writes the majority of marketing and legal copy. Like some other sites, the layouts and flow came from scribbles on napkins and daydreaming from our old apartment in Korea.

How long did it take from the planning stage to get to production?

We worked on the site part-time any where from 5-25 hours/ week for 8 months before our launch. Since then, we work on marketing and continuous improvements 20-60 hours/week.

Any future developments or features you’re planning to add to Wisegifter down the line?

Next month we’re launching our “12 Weeks of Unconventional Gifts on our blog, leading into the holidays. We see a shift happening away from material goods symbolizing happiness and towards better life experiences. It’s really exciting. We’re happy that we can help that happen and support other people to live their big dreams, whatever they may be. One part of that, is we make accounts for non-profits free of charge, to support their work.

We’re constantly working on ways to make our site reflect our users’ needs, as well.

  • First, we’ll be making it easier for users to tell their friends and family about their gift list. The easier it is for people to know about your dreams, the easier it is for people to want to help you out!
  • Second, we’re going to allow users to customize the look of their gift list to reflect what they are raising money for. The more personal the web site looks, the more likely people are to buy gifts.
  • Lastly, we’ll have a great set of photos for users to choose from so that they can include those photos with their gifts if they like. We’ll still allow the upload of the image of the user’s choice, but this way, they can choose from a great selection of photos if they don’t want to upload their own.

Of course, if any users out there have comments and suggestions, we’re all ears, as our users know better than we do!

Thank you very much for the interview Kyle and Bessie. Those of you looking to create your own gift list can do so for free at You can also follow Bessie and Kyle’s travels on their blog, On Our Own Path.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vinny September 3, 2010 at 11:37

What a great idea! I thought of using in the future for some adventures, but this sounds even better! Thanks for the interview!


2 Anil P. September 5, 2010 at 10:26

It was my pleasure to post the interview, I love the idea as well:)


3 Bessie September 5, 2010 at 23:03 is great for big money, big impact. If you’re looking for immediate support, whether big or small, friends or strangers alike, WiseGifter is a great option. Hope you give it a try! 🙂


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