Any parent can tell you that kids' birthday parties can be magical… and stressful.
We recently sat down with two moms who turned their own frustration into a business that specializes in fun, simplified birthday party experiences — with a charitable twist. Along the way they learned some interesting lessons about human behaviour, which they shared with us in episode 6 of TGIM.
Check out the full interview below:
Want to hear more? Listen to the rest of episode six now.
Android users can subscribe to the show on Soundcloud.
Narrator: "Birthday parties are great fun, especially for kids. That's not always the case for parents who have to trudge through toy stores in search of the perfect gift, one that might actually get used more than once. The two moms you're about to meet figured out a way to solve this particular problem, and the trick was just to get parents to change the way they thought about birthday gifts."
Narrator: "Birthdays. Happy birthday! Fun, right?"
Debbie: "When you invite 12 to 15 kids to a birthday party, I just dread it now. Having to deal with all those gifts."
Male: "We don't need 10 Lego kits coming into the house, okay?"
Narrator 2: "I have no idea what to buy for other people's kids."
Debbie: "I just find that I'm spending all day in toy stores buying gifts for other people's children, instead of hanging out with my own kids."
Narrator: "Enter ECHOage, co-founder Debbie Zinman explains."
Debbie: "ECHOage is a party planning platform with a charitable twist. All of your guests contribute whatever they want, 10, 20, 30 dollars. ECHOage pools all of the funds that come into the birthday party. Half of it goes to the birthday party boy or girl to buy whatever they want, an iPad, hockey skates, dance lessons, a gerbil. The sky's the limit. The other half of the funds goes to the charity of the child's choice. There are over 300 charities to choose from on the ECHOage platform."
Narrator: "Debbie and her business partner Alison Reed actually met on the birthday party circuit."
Debbie: "As parents, we were feeling burdened by a birthday party instead of excited by the idea that it was your child's birthday party. There was this looming dread of some sort. I remember hearing a story of a mom who was rushing around to get her two little ones dressed and ready to go to a birthday party and realized she didn't have a gift. She had to run to the toy department in her house, which was overflowing, and grab something that hadn't been used, and what she did was she regifted a gift that had been given to her from that mom."
Debbie: "We both were saying, "Isn't there a better way?" We've mobilized very quickly, because we realized nobody else was doing it. This was an innovation, so we wanted to make sure that we were first to market. I think literally from that birthday party forward, we didn't stop. We both quit our jobs and said, "Let's go." For anyone who has a great idea and is ready to launch it, I would say, "Jump in and the net will appear."
Narrator: "The net certainly appeared for ECHOage. Debbie and Alison started with just 3 charities. Now they're up to 300, and they've helped kids raise over 5 million dollars, all through micro giving."
Debbie: "The first 3 charities that came on board trusted us when we didn't have a website. They believed in us and the idea."
Narrator: "As Debbie and Alison proved their idea was a winner, word got around in the world of charities."
Debbie: "They seem to be very grateful that there's something new. It's not another golf tournament. It's not another fundraising dinner. It's really what ECHOage is a redirection of funds that were already being spent in the marketplace. Nobody's out of pocket any money. In fact, they're almost ahead of the game, because they get a tax receipt for the funds that they are spending. I think the charities really see how easy it is for them to implement it and appreciate what ECHOage has accomplished for them."
About TGIM: TGIM is a podcast for people who can’t wait for the week to start. In each episode we’ll be bringing you inspirational stories about entrepreneurs who have overcome obstacles, built incredible businesses, and are now living the life they want.