Gudoo is a little like Paperless Post, except it is totally geared towards kids’ birthday parties. On the Gudoo website, you can send out invitations via WhatsApp, fund joint presents and experiences and keep tabs on who is coming.
We were lucky enough to meet Gudoo founder, Tom Price, a father-of-two who quit a high flying job to build this fantastic new business while juggling school runs and playdates.
Can you tell us a bit about Gudoo?
Gudoo is an online party-planning & invitation service for kids’ birthday parties. Gudoo aims to add to the excitement of children’s parties, whilst reducing some of the excess and show kids that birthdays can be about giving as well as receiving.
The platform allows organisers and guests to fund one special present or experience as well as a gift for charity that is chosen by the child rather than a pile of plastic presents.
Everything is organised and tracked online, from beautiful, customisable invitations, RSVP’s, contributions & updates managed through the site.
From a guest perspective, they get the invite via e-mail or it can be sent via text/WhatsApp. The invite has details on the party, maps and instructions & can contribute through the site to spare that last-minute dash to buy a plastic knick-knack.
What inspired you to start?
As parents to two young children, my wife and I were feeling increasingly frustrated by the way that parties were organised and how gifts were both given and received.
Children unwrap presents in a frenzy and then move straight onto the next one, which we found really difficult to watch. You want to teach your children to value things!
These toys were also often made of plastic (67% of the toy market uses plastic within manufacturing), and we were finding that we had toy-overload.
We also found that when our children were invited to parties, we would struggle to find meaningful presents that didn’t break the bank – and we’d still be wrapping them and writing the car in the car or on the bus on our way there!
Gudoo was conceived to try and address some of these challenges, whist still making birthdays special and helping others.
How difficult was it to launch your own business?
As a lot of things in life, it sounded simpler than it was.
When I started out, I thought it would be a couple of months to put together a website and then I would be off.
In reality, and due to the nature of a party planning application which includes the ability to take payments, there was a lot more complexity than I realised.
I did have the fortune of knowing some friends who ran a design and branding agency (https://www.brother.design/) along with a great developer, Clive Sweeting, who has put so many hours into the site and worked through the various challenges along the way and Andy Rigden who assisted me with the copywriting of the site.
Also, the nature of the business means that volume is key – I think I overestimated how quickly things would be to grow the business, however it’s getting there and we’re seeing many more parties being organised through Gudoo.
What’s next for Gudoo?
Continuous testing and simplification – I think there are some areas we could make the journey easier for organisers which we’re going to work on.
Because everyone lives on their phone now, it would be good to get an app going in the medium term, however we decided that this wouldn’t be needed for phase 1 of the build.
In the future, I’d also like to make some changes to the site & branding to branch into other areas such as adult parties and weddings.
What would you say is your USP?
I think the fact that the site is about giving to charity is key here.
In the UK, it can be challenging to just ask for money rather than presents, however given that there is a 50-50 split between a contribution to a meaningful gift or experience that the child really wants, and a contribution to a charity that is special to the child, means that everyone can feel good about the experience.
How do you manage to fit it in with being a dad?
This was a really big one for us as a family.
My wife and I both had very full-on careers, with lots of travel and long hours. While we both enjoyed our roles, we also recognised that we were not spending the time with our children that they needed.
We found this really difficult to get our heads around, so the concept of starting a business that I could run from home was really appealing.
As a 6’4” rugby-playing bloke, it can feel slightly strange being the one doing the school-runs and coordinating play-dates for friends, but generally it’s been good for us as a family. I’m there for the kids when they need me, and I really love and appreciate being able to go watch the children in their sports fixtures or school concerts.
I’m also really grateful for my wife who has a big burden while Gudoo is starting out, she’s been so amazing throughout the whole process.
What would be your advice to someone like you who wished to start up on their own?
You have to start somewhere – the hardest part is the commitment to get going. I’d also say speak to lots of people before you begin.
The concept of what I’m doing had some great feedback which helps.
Who is your inspiration?
Obviously, the “Attenborough Effect” has inspired everyone to think about the amount that they consume.
The mantra Reduce, Re-use, Recycle is key here, with the key word being Reduce. Gudoo aims to reduce the amount of excess from kids parties whist still making it fun for kids.
I also read a fantastic book, called Stuffocation, by James Wallman. The book talks about how the volume of “stuff” that we own can really stress us out and how we should focus on having experiences rather than buying things.