A gift well worth giving

Marta Barbayannis developed an app called GiftWell. 194945_01 ROB CAREW

By Danielle Galvin

Former lawyer turned entrepreneur Marta Barbayannis is hoping to drive a cultural change when it comes to kids’ presents.

The Camberwell mum of two young boys has developed an app, called GiftWell, which enables family and friends to contribute to a “big present” for a child’s birthday via the app.“In my previous life I was a lawyer but I took quite a bit of time off when I had the kids, to spend time with them at home,” Marta explained.

“When I was on the verge of going back to work, I had this idea for GiftWell.

“I’d always wanted my own business, and I thought, there’s no time like the present.

“Now is probably a good time to take the plunge and finally make that happen.”

The business idea and app, which Marta calls her “third baby” came from her own experience with birthday parties when her children hit kinder age.

After weekends filled with birthday parties, presents and plenty of plastic toys, Marta wanted a change.

In her market research, she has found that parents aren’t comfortable asking for money for a gift for their child.

But most of us are more than happy to contribute money if we know it’s going towards a big, meaningful present for a child, such as a bike or another longed-for toy.

“People like to be a part of something bigger,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter what you earn, where you live, what your demographic is, these days everything is so accessible and we don’t hold back; we just buy, buy, buy.

“So come birthday time and Christmas time, we’re a bit stuck.”

She hopes with the app that kids may have access to something that was previously out of reach, through the rather unique gift solution.

Starting a business after children has been a learning experience for Marta.

“It’s been exciting, I love the thrill of it, (but) it’s also been quite daunting,” she explained.

“This is me pursuing an idea that I really believe in, and I guess fulfilling this desire in me that I’ve always wanted to create something that could genuinely benefit others, that’s what’s kept me going.’

She appreciates the flexibility in her new venture, but admits there’s definitely nights, particularly in these early days, where she’s up all hours working hard.

But she said it’s the nature of the beast when it comes to a start-up.

“I have been calling it my third baby – it’s been quite an investment in many ways,” she said.“It’s sort of taken on a little life of its own.”

As for her kids, she’s happy to show them the value in money, in toys, their belongings as well as the value in her work.“I think it’s good for them to see mum has launched something, mum has started something.

“I talk about GiftWell with them all the time, they come to expos and that sort of thing.”

Marta hopes more Australian parents adopt the “less is more approach” when it comes to toys.

She said having fewer toys helps kids develop a better attention span and be more focused.

“I really believe in it and want people to learn more about it,” she said.