Startup Suggestion: RedBalloon.com.au, for the US

RedBalloon.com.au is a popular company in Australia. They allow individuals to buy "experiences" as gifts.

To the best of my knowledge, they are doing extremely well and growing very quickly.

Additionally, they are well positioned to take advantage of the trend away from ownership of "stuff" towards the purchasing of experiences. (Think Fight Club, or any of the TED talks on happiness. We are learning that money is better spent on experiences, and over time consumers will react to this information)

A few American companies appear to be doing something similar, but executed to a well enough level. Important to note that a huge advertising budget is required for a company in this space.

Additional ideas:

  • Give users discounts on future purchases after they share photos of the experiences they purchase
  • Help provide gift vendors with photography/videography guidelines (potentially even going as far as to send professionals?) to capture media that the customers want to share. E.g. at a paintball game, if the photos are professionally done, and I tag myself on a computer in the lobby while I'm paying or waiting for something else, everyone wins. Especially the vendor/gift company.
  • Gift reminder service for users. Allow them to enter in birthdays (or at least use the regional holidays - mother's day, father's day, valentines, etc), and send them coupons.
  • Gift selection tools. Many guys would love a small web application that allowed them to answer yes/no (or other simply answered) questions about their partner, and be given a list of great gift suggestions.