Its Christmas time and everyone has the buy buy buy gear on, which means that people are slowly but surely becoming obsessive with getting the done before the shops close. If you have been trying to get your shopping done during December, then surely you’ve found your self stuck in traffic, stuck in queues or just generally stuck somewhere, and in worst cases without any idea on what to buy. Maybe its time to use the Internet for your Christmas shopping this year? After all, online commerce has developed into an incredibly efficient (time & money saving) service. Long are gone those days of cumbersome online shopping experiences and limited product ranges.
So why not try this year something even more special? Instead of shopping at large multi-nationals that will make their profits without your business anyway, try the services of an startup, like the ones suggested below? After all, the Ikea’s, MediaMarket’s, Zara’s and El Corte Ingles’ don’t pay a lot of tax, and have the same things in every store, standardising much of todays product offering to an incredibly mundane level (surely you’ve seen bunch of people with the same Ikea furniture than yours).
Startups (most) have heart, soul and want to deliver the best freaking service they can, in order to impress you and get your repeated and referral business.
So, we thought we’d put together 10 awesome startups that can be fantastic alternatives for your Christmas shopping.
1) Nonabox – Is the rising superstar of the Spanish startup scene with its subscription-based service for mothers in their pregnancy and for their babies aged 0-2 years. With Nonabox, customers will receive on monthly basis a personalized box with quality baby care products. Each Nonabox costs €25 (with free delivery) a month and contains products worth more than €80 (often, these products are not yet in the market or are simply tailored for Nonabox clients). Nonabox will learn your preferences and development, and adjusts accordingly to the users needs, thus providing timely products, always aiming at providing practical value to the users. Nonabox can be an extremely valuable gift for young mothers who are inundated with their day-to-day motherly tasks. We all love our mommy’s and remember how hard they work for us, so this Christmas, remember a new mother with Nonabox, guaranteed to get you loads of hugs and maybe even free food.
2) We Are Knitters – is a website that waves the knitting flag as high as possible with a winning attitude. Yep, these guys are knitters and damn proud of it too! We Are Knitters, young startup from Madrid, is a genuine one-stop-shop for everything knitting, helping first-time knitters to get started with their fantastic how-to-do videos all away to complete guides on creating your very own sweaters and other wearables, that range from hats, sweaters, kids gloves, skirts, scarves and computer, phone and iPad covers, and to pretty much anything worth knitting. The prices are reasonable, the quality is excellent and they’ll even teach you, step-by-step, on create your next master piece. The website is complete with guides, gift ideas (fantastic ideas actually), supplies, patterns and all kinds of things to make this Christmas special for someone. Knitting is no longer for the elderly and these guys mission is to demonstrate that, and much more. Self-made gifts have significant amount of impact on the recipient, with We Are Knitters, you’d be able to give something that will be useful, unique and awesome!
3) Camaloon – Ever wanted to create cool personalised stickers, buttons, magnets or skins? With Camaloon all that and more is possible! This young startup from Barcelona loves to make you feel special and their website does a fantastic job guiding the users through it’s creative product range. The Skins for phones and laptop are especially cool, as they range from Happy Poops (flying piles of happy faeces) to a very psychedelic wolf…Prices are reasonable, starting from few euros, going all away up to upwards of 30’s. So, if you know someone that could use a new cover for their laptop or smartphone, then look no further than Camaloon!
4) Birchbox – Imagine being able to give a gift to your girlfriend (why not your mom, sister or female friends, too!) with something that delivers them quality beauty products on monthly basis, which always will remind them of you and the best part is, that you don’t need to know anything about cosmetics. Genius, isn’t it? Often called “the Netflix of makeup”, Birchbox is a subscription-based service for selected beauty brands of the highest quality, that sends on monthly basis a box filled with variety of products. The recipient will enjoy products from around the world and have the opportunity to order more of those products that had an impact and less of those that didn’t, effectively curating the experience. The site works in English, Spanish and French at the moment, but it is the Spanish site that provides the best experience. It is really an impressive site to behold, as the entire concept is explained in one page, along with the pricing, content of the boxes and the benefits of using Birchbox, become more than clear to the first time users. There are plenty of subscription models for the discovery commerce out there, but few come close to Birchbox in the quality, choice of products and an overall customer satisfaction. Operating now in Spain since the acquisition of a French based copycat, JolieBox, Birchbox offers beauty products from over 400 providers. With as little as €10 per month or €100 per year (with two boxes free) subscribers are able to receive a Birchbox filled with beauty products, making it a gift that keeps on giving!
5) Zacatrus – There are tons of great board games out there, some are greater than others, however, everyone has their own favourites (we love Jenga here at SiliconKarne), but Spanish startup, Zacatrus, has them all. When we say has them all, we really mean that: with thousands of board games, puzzles, playmobils, robots, radio control devices and card games available on the site and with reasonable pricing, Zacatrus leaves little reason for not using their service for this Christmas. In case you can’t find your game, notify the guys at Zacatrus and they’ll go finding it for you, by “searching the seven seas and all of the corners of the continent” if they must. Finding board games has been made very comfortable with their website, with clear categories and options such as; age ranges, price, number of gamers, family games or even by manufacturers.
6) Sexo Divino – Need something more raunchy for this Christmas? Wanna surprise your partner with something little bit different, while benefiting from the gift itself? With Sexo Divino, a La Rioja based startup, you’ll be able to gift away erotic content that ranges from handcuffs, sexy wine & chocolate, all away to full on sex toys. Sexo Divino is for anyone who wants to try something very different on this Christmas, but don’t have the balls to buy them in person at the sex stores. There are gifts for Her, Him, Couples, Gay Couples and even for weddings, so that nobody will feel left out. You can ether get a pre-prepared box filled with quality items, usually including a nice bottle of wine, a sex toy, some lubricants and even something sweet (around €40-€100 a box) or get to handpick your individual items gift wrapped in a cool box! The site does a great job explaining with lots of detail about the content of each box, which will leave no doubt of what exactly you are gifting. Unfortunately, the site is only in Spanish (hopefully not for a very long).
7) DaWanda – Is the online marketplace for cool and unique products, which are usually handmade by the DaWanda community. DaWanda, a Berlin based startup with offices in Berlin, Madrid and Warsaw, is an online ecommerce wunderkind, with over 3million unique products, served from 200,000 DaWanda user made shops. You see, creative people can make their own stores and sell their products within the DaWanda community. These items are very special as in most cases, the producer will make a specific item upon the request of a client. DaWanda members can communicate personally with the designers and request specifications to their needs. This kind of social commerce is captivating and spreads like wildfire, especially amongst the cool hipster leaning people in their 20′s & 30′s as well as amongst early adopters, who have become the loudest cheerleaders of the service. It comes as no surprise then, that DaWanda achieves over 13million visits on average per month! Here, individuality is awarded and chain production is frowned upon. The range of products is as vast as its users, ranging from Men, Baby, Fashion, Accessories, Children, Home, Supplies, Vintage and Celebration products. For the first time users, DaWanda could be bit of an overwhelming experience initially, with its over packed home page, the sheer range of options and the amount of info, however, be not afraid, as it will become clearer after a short while, especially when you realise that these products have been made by people just like you, often in their homes and not in Chinese sweatshops.
8) Matby – Product promotion based platform for menswear and lifestyle, ranging from bicycles to wallets. Each product has a certain expiration time frame, just like an auction platform, although without any kind of bidding. The products range from Complements, underwear, Sports, Textiles, Cosmetics and Gagdets. Matby, a young Madrid based startup, provides free delivery during the Christmas period, which makes ordering stuff like this pretty cool. The site is so far only in Spanish, but its worth to have a look, after all numbers don’t need translation.
9) Decantalo – Who doesn’t love Spanish wine, especially the delicious Ribera Del Duero or a world famous Rioja, or maybe some sweet white wine from the Rias Baixas region of Galicia? For those who live outside of Spain, and often to those who are lucky to live in Spain, finding small Spanish wine makers can be a challenging task, but luckily there is Decantalo. Specialising only in Spanish wine, Decantalo offers an impressive range of this delicious fermented grape juice and with their clear guide: the age, taste, price range, producer etc., wine shopping becomes less of a cumbersome task. Decantalo also gives tips on how to store the wines, which temperature is ideal for that specific bottle, which food accompanies it the best, and much more. Within its wide range, customers can find rare wines too, such as the sublime (perhaps the best red wine in the world) Aalto PS Magnum, which is difficult to find almost anywhere outside of Spain.
10) Botisto – Ever thought about buying your husband/boyfriend or friend (male) a really nice pair of personalised shoes? When we say nice, we mean, seriously high quality shoes with completely personalised material, measurements and feel. Botisto, a small Finnish led startup with the HQ in Madrid, gets the shoes made in Lombardia, Italy with premium materials after the specifications of the customer. Each shoe is made for the exact measurements of the wearer, including the precise measurement differences between your left and right foot (yep, that does happen – apparently both of them are not same size always –wtf!). Here’s how it works: You measure the exact dimensions of your feet by ether doing it at home or by visiting their store in Seoul (yes, that’s in Korea – puzzled? So are we), then you send the measurements over to Botisto, after which they’ll send you back the possible choices (colour, style, material) according to the specifications. The prices vary from €219, and to the most fascinating shoe a hustler could need, called the Ostrich Trionfo with a price tag of €510. Yeah, these shoes might not be your style (or maybe they are!), but by Jupiter they’ll make you look like you own the streets!
Hopefully you’ll use some of these startups during this Christmas period. It is important that we all understand that Startups are actually just young companies, with a strong desire to provide their customers with the best service, price and products possible. These guys, although young as they are, will and can provide equal and in many cases better quality of service, than their multi-national counterparts.