Shalom Life | September 02, 2014

Behold, The Gift Network: Exclusive Interview With President, Cole Diamond

Shalom Life had a conversation with Cole Diamond, Founder and President of The Gift Network.

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: May 7th, 2012 in Culture » Society » Interviews

Behold, The Gift Network: Exclusive Interview With President, Cole Diamond
Now that winter is but bitter memory, Spring is here and couples waltz down the isle – yes, wedding season is upon us again. However, on the heels of this happiest of times, comes the dilemma of what precisely to buy freshly wedded couples, and more pointedly, finding the time in a hectic schedule to purchase a gift. Behold, The Gift Network. In essence, it is an efficient online one-stop-shop centralized website, that enables registrants to browse the inventory over 130 specialty retailers in the Greater Toronto Area. Additionally, members can visit a partner store to see products in person, and have products added to their registry, if so desired.

The Gift Network is the brainchild of founder and president, Cole Diamond. Founded in December 2010, and launched in October 2011, The Gift Network is very much on an upward trajectory.

Shalom Life was able to chat with Cole Diamond, about the company that he founded.

How did you come up with the concept of The Gift Network?

About 10 years ago, my cousin Alana was getting married and my mother told me I was old enough to buy my own gifts. When she told me that I had to visit The Bay to purchase her a gift from her registry, I said to her "why do I have to go The Bay? It’s a generic department store; there's so many other places that have better and more unique gifts". My mother's reply was simple, "She did a gift registry, and a gift registry is done at one department store only, and she chose The Bay!" Growing up in the 21st century, I thought that was weird, and wondered why people couldn't simply create their registry with more than one store, get access to a wider range of product, and manage it all in one centralized location to make it easy for their guests. Being in my late teens, I thought it was a great business idea, but knew I was too young and inexperienced to pursue it so I went and gained a ton of experience in sales, marketing, and software and then re-visited the idea in February 2011 when I recognized that no one had taken advantage of this idea I thought of years ago...and here we are today.

Who are the creative forces behind the company?

The Gift Network has a diverse team behind it composed of an 8-person investment team and 16 in-office employees. To label one or two people, as the creative force behind The Gift Network would overlook the hard work put in by the 25 or so people involved. Everyone has had their hand in helping build The Gift Network to what it is today. Without input from this many people, we would not be as successful as we have been. I credit our entire team as a creative force; without them, we are nothing!

Can you give us a brief overview of how The Gift Network works?

The Gift Network has 130+ partner locations across the GTA. Registrants create their registry on www.thegiftnetwork.com and then can start browsing for gifts from all of the retailers, adding products at a single click. Products are placed into a centralized registry, known as the registrant's "Registry Profile," and guests can visit the page to purchase gifts in a multitude of ways. The first is to simply purchase a gift outright. A guest will find a gift in their price range and purchase it. However, there are instances where a guest's price range and the products listed on the registrants profile, do not correspond. To combat this issue, The Gift Network offers two solutions: the first is a "chip in" feature for more expensive gifts. If a registrant wants a sectional sofa or piece of art for $1,500 dollars, a guest can visit their registry and "chip-in" any amount they feel comfortable contributing. Alternatively, The Gift Network offers a gift card known as the "TGN Gift Card" which is redeemable at any of The Gift Network's partner locations. Some registrants who do not know what gifts they want, will simply ask for their guests to purchase them the gift card so they can go shopping at their own convenience after their wedding, when they have the time to focus on getting the things they really need or want.

How old are you?

I'm 28 years old. My brother and business partner Ari is 24 years old. Together, we're a savvy 52-year-old CEO! Our Director of Business Development, Corey Shankman, is 26 years old and is an integral part of our business. We have a strong bunch of hardworking 20-somethings hungry for success!

What’s next on your agenda for the company?

The Gift Network has a lot planned for the future; given our strong relationships with our store partners, the sky is the limit. The gift registry market is just the beginning for us. A general gift card program for boutique and independent retailers is already in the works, as well as a push to go national with our registry service. We will be able to service customers across the country within 6 months. And then, we'll be going south to service our friends in the United States.

Where do you see The Gift Network in 5 years?

I see The Gift Network as a popular online shopping destination for unique and diverse products from Canadian-owned retail and service providers. I also see the most diverse gift card program in the country, with the ability to redeem the same gift card at an art gallery in Vancouver or a kitchen store in Mississauga. Our goal is to always grow, and leverage our partners and their products to give the Canadian population better access to bricks and mortar retail through an easy and robust online shopping experience.


For more info, visit www.thegiftnetwork.com
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