mandag 22. mars 2010

DEMO: SocialWish combines social networks and e-commerce to make wishes come true

SocialWish is one of 65 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Spring 2010 event taking place this week. These companies do pay a fee to present, but our coverage of them remains objective.
SocialWish, a web service that combines social networking with e-commerce so that people can come together to make others’ wishes come true, launched today at the DEMO conference in Palm Desert, Calif.
Initially inspired by wedding registries, the concept of online wish lists was popularized by Amazon, when it introduced its own web-based wish list, which allows people to share items they want so that people know what to buy them for birthdays and other occasions. SocialWish takes this a step further, allowing groups of people to buy things for others, collaboratively pooling finances and making large purchases that may have seemed impossible.
For example, one SocialWish member could list a certain amount they want to donate to a charity, and their friends could band together to hit the total. A student might add college tuition to their list, allowing people in their social networks to help shoulder the cost.
The company lists several other heartwarming examples: helping a young couple pay off their debts, allowing a photography student to buy new camera equipment, or giving entrepreneurs the boost they need to start a new business.
Wish-makers simply enter the relevant information into the SocialWish web site, and can choose to share it via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter to get the word out. The startup makes money from transactions on the site. Whenever you contribute money to a wish-maker, the company takes a fee of 5 percent plus 50 cents. Recipients are given the money in the form of a prepaid Visa card.
“The site will integrate with both Facebook Connect and the Twitter OpenAuth services,” says CEO Todd Van Hoosear.
Contributors can choose to be identified or anonymous. People can make wishes on the behalf of other users as well — for a surprise honeymoon, new car or the like.
“We will be rolling out iPhone and Facebook applications in the very near future to help extend the portability,” Van Hoosear said.
Right now, the marketing plan will still be targeting specific events in people’s lives, like weddings, birthdays and graduations. In the long-term, however, the company hopes to change the way people think about accomplishing major financial goals for themselves and the people they know. Similar companies include Wishpot, which allows you to share wish lists with people, and Kickstarter, which helps you find funds for ambitious projects, like writing a novel
Based in Brooklyn, the year-old service is still in closed beta. It raised some seed funding. Here’s a screenshot to give you a sense of the system:

Tags: DemoBeat, DEMOSpring10
Companies: SocialWish
People: Todd Van Hoosear

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