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Start-up Spotlight: Wantful

The future of gift-giving has arrived. No, we're not talking about the archaic days of actually driving to the mall and purchasing an "I hope they like it" gift in-person -- this isn't 1998. Or even the days of perusing a plethora of online stores to find that one perfect item, then one-click shipping directly to your recipient. That's so 2008.

Nope, the future is a collection of 16 carefully selected treasures, well-curated and highly personalized, compiled into an individualized catalog that you can print and ship - or email - to your favorite person, so that they can choose a gift they actually want.

Wantful, created by entrepreneur John Poisson, launched in 2011 because its founders were "tired of gift cards, stick-on bows, and pre-printed greeting cards." So they've re-imagined the gift-giving experience, to focus on quality, ease, style, and choice. The site allows givers to select a price range from $30 to $500, then offers a collection of gift options within that price range, organized into categories like "accessories", "art + décor" and "entertaining". The giver chooses 16 items, that are then compiled into a catalog with a personalized redemption code, and sent to the recipient either via snail mail or email. When the recipient logs-on and enters their unique code, he or she chooses one gift from the items in their catalog, shipped to their address at no additional cost or hassle.

What makes Wantful so wonderful? There's an undeniable ease factor -- the process is simple, painless for the giver and the getter, without the drama of finding that one perfect present. But we fell in love with the site because if its emphasis on style and surprise-and-delight; it's a genuinely fun experience, both to choose gifts for someone else and to get to hand-pick the gift you're receiving from your catalog. It makes the entire process feel more personal, ironic for a tech start-up that lives only in the online space.

This Small Business Week, Wantful was a natural spotlight: an idea that stemmed from a need (an easier way to give gifts) and a desire ("a head-turning gift experience that adds style, surprise, personalization and choice to the gift you're giving"), and has grown into a bit of a phenomenon. We applaud entrepreneurs who use technology to enhance everyday life, looking for new ways to innovate and improve, without sacrificing a personal touch.