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Santa's Gift aims to restore the magic of Christmas for children.

New business hopes to restore the magic of Christmas

This year at Startup Weekend Exeter, the overall winner was crowned as Santa’s Gift, a novel Christmas business supporting local communities and keeping the magic of Christmas true for children.

Startup Weekend is an intense business focused weekend that helps to develop ideas and solutions which have the potential to make a positive difference to society. It returned to Exeter for the seventh time in November 2017.

Chris Wood, Co-Founder of a local software development company, Metafore and Project Co-Founder of Santa’s Gift revealed how he discovered Startup Weekend: "I heard about it when a couple of people were talking about it at the Fab Lab in Exeter Library two or three years ago - I believe Natalie Collard was one of them. It is the fourth I’ve been to (only the second where I’ve been able to stay for the full weekend). It truly is a unique and challenging experience and a must for anyone thinking about starting a business or understanding what it takes.”

The Santa's Gift team was made up from a group of participants on the day who had previously never met. Katie Stevens is Director at Greyhound Accountancy Services Ltd, Marius Porneala is an IT Analyst, Angelica Herrera is an MBA student Exeter Business School and Chris Wood is a Developer.

The November Startup Weekend had an additional theme to create a business that is socially responsible. Chris explained how the business aims to give back to society: “The concept is that traditionally kids get disappointing gifts at Santa’s Grottos. Our solution is to allow parents to pre-order gifts that match the requests a child makes in a letter to Santa. One of the business models would be local community based Santa’s Grottos - possibly a ‘popup grotto’ in purpose built vehicles.”

It is well known that each business needs a unique selling point in order to stand strong against its competitors. Chris revealed their secret to success: “Our USP is actually providing what a child has requested from Santa for Christmas during a Santa’s Grotto experience. In doing so, we hope to add a bit more magic to Christmas and support local communities. Our next stage is to consolidate a business model.”

Chris and the team hope that Santa's Gift will become a familiar feature at every local shopping centre each Christmas. He said: “In around five years time, having been heavily trialled over several Christmas seasons, we would like to see it either franchised to independent operators or incorporated into an existing business (either an online store looking to establish real world Christmas presence or a department store chain that currently has Santa’s Grottos).”

The next Startup Weekend Exeter is due to be held in 2018. For more information on Startup Weekend visit the website.

Date: 5 December 2017

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