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2021 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Nominee, CanadianSME National Business Awards

What inspired you to start your own business and become an entrepreneur? Tell us your story!

Moving to Canada as a 17 year old teenager with a torn knee ligament walking with a stick in the right hand; With no accommodation or any friends or family in the entire country, after missing a flight in Amsterdam and luggage still in India due to some operations issues in the flight. I was standing alone at the Toronto Pearson Airport with just a handbag and some money that could get me a taxi and a couple of days at a hotel. It was then that I became an observant - observing a whole new country with a completely different lifestyle, and of course a different language. Although, one thing that remained the same was human psychology - people here were laughing at similar jokes, they had similar responses and emotions to different situations. And with time, my observations on the similarity in brain psychology got even stronger as I cut-short my education and started working at Canada's biggest bank as an IT Innovation Lead. At this time, I was entering into my 20’s when I started mentoring younger people with career advice and helping the older ones with their life problems, mostly on dealing with emotional intelligence - the simpler ones on a daily life basis, not as a psychiatrist.

On a regular day at the bank, while one of my teammates was retiring, I was given the responsibility to buy gifts for him; and as simple as it sounds now it was equally difficult to think what to buy. Just like anyone would do, I pulled out my phone and searched on Google, read a few blog posts and watched a few videos, and I believed I had gained a fair understanding of choosing a decent gift. But as soon as I opened Amazon, Etsy, and a few other sites, my mind went blank. Just one question arose - “How can I possibly apply those blogs' knowledge into choosing a product?” And much to my surprise, it was not only me who was still struggling with choosing a gift every time an opportunity came, but it was everyone. Time and again I kept hearing these questions among friends groups, on social media, and everywhere; especially around Christmas time.

As COVID-19 pandemic hit, and I switched to work from home, I started to spare some time to research online and connect with some psychologists researching these topics. Soon myself and a few psychologists gained some momentum and found the root cause of this; not much to our surprise the science was hidden in the human brain itself. Although, it’s all about the feelings and emotions, together we nailed down a few practical attributes of human psychology that makes a perfect gift; 4 major attributes that, if fulfilled successfully, will guarantee that the gift would be well received.

We started off educating people on these attributes through various means including Zoom conferences, writing blogs as well as utilizing all social media platforms. Although my other mates were fully focussed on sharing just the content, I kept debating if we have really solved the problem. Eventually, this is what everyone else has been doing - educating through blogs and then ordering from Amazon. I had been through this before when buying a gift for a retiring colleague where there wasn’t any interface between the content consumption and the practical application. Thus, after also receiving a lot of requests and questions from people, I decided to create a platform to bridge this gap between learning and buying and named it “GiftAFeeling”. Feeling, because that’s what it really is.

Provide an overview of how the business was launched and what gap it’s filling in the Canadian market.

Everyone who lives in a society comes across an occasion where they have to find a gift for someone, at least once in their lifetime. In fact, for most people around the world, not just Canada, gift-giving is an integral part of forming and strengthening relationships. However, with the advent of social media, catalyzed with increasing consumerism and materialism, finding gifts that recipients would love has become extremely difficult. So much, such that one can very easily get trapped into a spiral of confusion and overthinking. Furthermore, even research has proven that poor gifts can hurt relationships. This is what makes people Giftophobic as most of the Giftophobes procrastinate finding a gift until the last moment, while some rely on others to help them find gifts.

Moreover, unlike many other things, Google isn’t an escape out of Giftophobia, the confusion and overthinking. So, when people search things like “Best gifts” on Google - they find two kinds of resources:
  1. Blogs & Articles by businesses, marketers, and affiliates: There are tons of these; however, they lack trust. This is because, while search engines optimize these blogs and articles, there isn’t any authority confirming or verifying the accuracy of the information these blogs provide.
  2. Books, research papers, scientific journals, and blogs by experts: These are highly trustable, accurate, and thoroughly researched. However, these are either difficult to comprehend or are impractical.
Thus, when one tries to Google their way out of Giftophobia, they either fall prey to these marketers who are trying to sell their products, or get into learning from the trustable sources which are impractical. And for these reasons, more than 100,000,000+ people asked “What to gift” last year and could not find a legitimate answer. This is a problem we have solved, right from the root by creating a team of global psychologists doing deeper independent research to find the 4 major attributes of a perfect gift. These have been shared to end customers through the Ted Talk, last-minute gifting checklist, #1 Global Bestselling book, and through our research blog “Shared Secrets” among many other TV and news outlets.

Moreover, we have solved two shadowing problems for Canadians in two ways:
  • OrganizationsOne of the biggest challenges that Canadian firms and organizations face is finding a Canadian partner which can provide promotional products and customized merchandise with 100% brand integrity, high visibility, and less headache. Most of the orders before GiftAFeeling was established, were fulfilled by importing from China and USA. GiftAFeeling has partnered with local Canadian firms, shops, and organizations to fulfill the orders, globally.
  • IndividualsApart from the B2B, GiftAFeeling has been close to Canadian citizens by working with charities, small and mid-sized businesses, and direct consumers. This has also provided a blueprint to other Canadian startups on how they can leverage the Canadian local businesses and shops, along with how to optimize the supply chain locally.

Provide any evidence to support your business's success since its launch. Why does your start-up deserve this award? Please explain.

GiftAFeeling today, as mentioned by CNBC, Ticker News, Wall Street Select, TedX, USA Today, Exceptional People Magazine, Business Digest Magazine, and LA Business Podcast, is a globally recognized Canadian brand, and the only brand in the world that educates people on gift-giving based on research done on human psychology. With a #1 Global Bestselling book - “Unearthing the Gift”, and platforms like “Shared Secrets”, it is considered a thought leader in the gifting domain.

The following are the three big contributions that the business has made in the first year of its existence:
  • Leading R&D in gift-giving domain around the worldGiftAFeeling is a highly recognized thought leader and also a leading R&D company in the gifting arena around the globe. It has invented the world “Giftophobia” in the modern era. Its leadership and innovation has led them to get invited to give a Ted Talk, make appearances on TV and many new outlets, and get published in magazines like Exceptional People Magazine, Business Digest Magazine, etc. Some other R&D, outside of the gifting domain is the revolutionary 3D personalization technology - introducing revolutionary 3-d personalization.

    All this has not only made GiftAFeeling a leader in the gifting domain, but also, Canada. As, it’s the only company in the world with such a mission, vision, and goal. It’s the only company in the world that has solved the problem of confusion and overthinking when finding gifts.
  • Creating JobsGiftAFeeling has created jobs in all domains - psychology, research, design, IT, content writing, blogging, sales, marketing, HR, recruitment, and many more. Amongst these, the biggest success is hiring interns and co-ops; especially, in the psychology and research area where students have the most difficulty than all other fields to find jobs or even enter the industry. GiftAFeeling has solved this problem by providing a platform to psychology students by offering them training and internships as they are pursuing their studies. Some of the interns/co-ops were from University of Western Ontario, McMaster, and universities in Vancouver, among the many others.

    Moreover, job opportunities were not only limited to Canada as interns from Italy, Netherlands, India, Pakistan, United States, etc. were also employed. Finally, GiftAFeeling is one of the fastest growing companies in Canada and is constantly hiring people in sales, marketing, technology, design, and many others. Within the first year of existence GiftAFeeling has hired 50+ employees from around the world with the majority of hires being from Canada.
  • Solved problems for Canadians:
    • OrganizationsOne of the biggest challenges that Canadian firms and organizations face is finding a reliable partner for providing promotional products and customized merchandise with 100% brand integrity, high visibility, and less headache. GiftAFeeling has solved this problem by providing the right portfolio of products based on research, offering 1,000+ products with full brand integrity, and relieving the pressure of getting items on time by providing a top noche service at an efficient cost. Some of our recent customers include University of Alberta, University of Windsor, University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, Obliquity Club, etc.
    • Individuals Apart from the B2B, GiftAFeeling has been close to Canadian citizens by working with charities, small and mid-sized businesses, and direct consumers by means of social media channels; educating and helping them buy products with strict delivery times during the pandemic. It’s one of the very few Canadian companies that provides both individual as well as customized products. This is especially helpful in the case of startups who cannot afford big merch orders!

Please outline how you have built a solid foundation upon which your business can thrive for the years to come?

Today, GiftAFeeling is a globally recognized thought leader in the gifting domain. People from all around the globe leverage and rely on resources provided by GiftAFeeling when finding gifts. An invention like the word Giftophobia, a book like Unearthing the Gift, A Ted Talk on finding gifts, expert interviews on Ticker News, placements in Exceptional People Magazines, podcast guest on LA Business Podcast, among the many others, are some of the things that have placed GiftAFeeling on a solid foundation of trust, reliability, and loyalty. And for these same reasons, a huge number of people come to GiftAFeeling not only to buy products, but also looking for resources - many being returning readers of Shared Secrets, GiftAFeeling’s research publishing platform. Moreover, universities and businesses like University of Alberta, University of Windsor, University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, Obliquity Club, etc. have included GiftAFeeling as their go to vendor for providing bulk promotional products and merch.

This I believe is a huge success, especially in just the first year of its existence. And being trusted and recognized not only in the minds of customers, but also experts and psychologists around the world is something any brand envisions. While GiftAFeeling is still scaling and expanding around the globe, not just Canada and the United States, having a solid foundation like this is a great catalyst and I believe as far as we can maintain this position - not just an e-commerce company, but a thought leader who wants to help people “Share the warmth” through gift-giving, GiftAFeeling will stay on the top as it continues to impact more lives.

Moreover, we are helping Canadian startups and small businesses by providing them small quantities of customized products in a timely manner and a cost effective way. From a single personalized product to 50,000 in bulk, we do it all fully in Canada while most of our competitors import from China and USA. On the other side, GiftAFeeling has partnered with local Canadian firms, shops, and organizations to fulfill the orders, globally. This has not only helped the Canadian customers to get their orders from local vendors, but also helped the hard hit vendors who lost a huge chunk of their business due to the COVID 19 pandemic. This way, GiftAFeeling has gained trust of both their customers and vendors along with creating a strong foundation which will continue to grow and serve more clients and customers going forward.

What initiatives has your business put in place during the pandemic to support your local community and your clients?

  • GiftAFeeling has partnered with local Canadian firms, shops, and organizations to fulfill the orders, globally. This has not only helped the Canadian customers to get their orders from local vendors, but also helped the hard hit vendors who lost a huge chunk of their business due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Sponsoring and supporting charities, especially when things turned virtual.
  • Offering a Canadian marketplace service where small shops, solopreneurs, etc. can go virtual and set up their shops. Some examples are:
  • Helping Canadian startups and small businesses with providing them small quantities of customized products in a timely manner.
  • Sustainability at GiftAFeeling: Sustainability is not a mere tagline; it is a manta to us at GiftAFeeling. We do not mislead the customers into thinking we’re sustainable—aka greenwashing—we strive for a sustainable and greener environment through our actions, products, and recycling. Read to see the steps we take to ensure a greener environment - sustainable section

Why are you the best candidate for this position? Provide any other information that might be relevant or important for the judges to consider.

Everyone who lives in a society comes across an occasion where they have to find a gift for someone, at least once in their lifetime. In fact, for most people around the world, not just Canada, gift-giving is an integral part of forming and strengthening relationships. However, with the advent of social media, catalyzed with increasing consumerism and materialism, finding gifts that recipients would love has become extremely difficult. So much, such that one can very easily get trapped into a spiral of confusion and overthinking. Furthermore, even research has proven that poor gifts can hurt relationships. This is what makes most of the people to become Giftophobic as most of the Giftophobes procrastinate finding a gift until the last moment, while some rely on others to help them find gifts.

Moreover, unlike many other things, Google isn’t an escape out of Giftophobia, the confusion and overthinking. So, when people search “Best gifts for mom”, “perfect gifts for dad”, etc on Google - they find two kinds of resources:
  1. Blogs & Articles by businesses, marketers, and affiliates: There are tons of these; however, they lack trust. This is because, while search engines optimize these blogs and articles, there isn’t any authority confirming or verifying the accuracy of the information these blogs provide.
  2. Books, research papers, scientific journals, and blogs by experts: These are highly trustable, accurate, and thoroughly researched; and these contain almost everything humanly researched ever on gift giving. However, these are either difficult to comprehend for the general public or are impractical in nature.
Thus, when one tries to Google their way out of Giftophobia, they either fall prey to these marketers who are trying to sell their products, or get into learning from the trustable sources which are impractical. And for these reasons, more than 100,000,000+ people asked “What to gift” last year and could not find a legitimate answer.

This is where I’ve solved this problem, right from the root by leading a team of global psychologists doing deeper independent research to find the 4 major attributes of a perfect gift. And, I’ve been successful sharing this knowledge with the right audience, who need help, through the Ted Talk, the book, the last-minute gifting checklist, edutainment videos on social media, TV expert interviews, publications in news media and magazines, and much more. Introducing the e-commerce side of GiftAFeeling solved the problem of easily applying this knowledge as all the products are confirmed by research taking demographics and segmentations in consideration. Moreover, the research and development is an integral part of GiftAFeeling so it continues to solve more bigger problems for both corporations and individuals along with inventing revolutionary tech advancements like 3D personalization features on the website Along with this, GiftAFeeling created 50+ jobs in its first year of existence, providing Canadians jobs in all the professions - psychology, research, design, IT, content writing, blogging, sales, marketing, HR, recruitment, and many more.

And finally, GiftAFeeling has partnered with local Canadian firms, shops, and organizations to fulfill the orders, globally. This has not only helped the Canadian customers to get their orders from local vendors, but also helped the hard hit vendors who lost a huge chunk of their business due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Today, GiftAFeeling is a globally recognized Canadian brand, and the only brand in the world that educates people on gift-giving based on research done on human psychology. All of this, while being sustainable!

Describe how your successful on-line business or use of e-commerce provides delivery of successful business performance.

GiftAFeeling is a fully on-line based business and is one of the leading e-commerce websites, not only in Canada, but the entire world. Not only do the customers design, personalize, shop, and buy gifts, but also get educated on gift-giving based on research done on human psychology by means of blogs, articles, research papers, scientific journals & publications, and using the QR code to download a PDF of our last-minute gifting checklist. All of the educational material that GiftAFeeling has developed provides a strong base on which to become a globally recognized thought leader. Everything in GiftAFeeling, from hiring and recruitment of employees to inventory management and supply chain is powered and integrated through digital means from the website. Let’s look at each of the processes in detail:
  • Inventory Management GiftAFeeling uses AI algorithms to determine which of the warehouses and production centers to procure the order in based upon the customer’s location for the best and most efficient user experience.
  • Supply Chain Management: After order placement, the production, shipping, and fulfillment is also powered by GiftAFeeling’s AI softwares. The products are personalized and are printed through different means like Direct-To-Garment, engraving, stickers, warm-printing, etc. The AI software we use knows which type of printing to use and converts the customer entered text or uploads image into the right format (JPEG, vector image, engraving file, etc) before the order goes to the production team. Similarly, QR codes and digital signatures are used within the company through the entire order fulfillment process.
  • Personalization: GiftAFeeling has developed world-class personalization and customization tools which both train and assist customers in personalizing as well as placing the order. This feature and technology has resulted in 98.7% of our orders in 2021 being placed fully online without any manual intervention.
  • Innovation: In terms of innovation under GiftAFeeling’s R&D, under the leadership of our Chief Creative Officer, GiftAFeeling is building a revolutionary 3D personalization feature - introducing revolutionary 3-d personalization This will revolutionize the e-commerce personalization not only for GiftAFeeling, but the entire world.
  • Recruitment, Partnerships & HR: GiftAFeeling has web applications which run as part of the e-commerce website for employee management, recruitment, training, and a database of interests and skills assessment which allows our employees to find the best fit for their skill sets and career growth. Moreover, our partners and vendors' websites are integrated through APIs with GiftAFeeling.com for ease of doing business, serving clients faster, and removing monotonous work.
  • Automation and Continuous Deployments: Automation and agile development through DevOps is how our technology base is built. This allows us to spend time on important things, creates a continuous feedback and iteration loop through constant and fast testing/failing, and aids in continuous deployments. This makes us stay up-to-date with the latest trends in technology.


Vinayak Mahajan,
Founder & CEO,
GiftAFeeling Inc.




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