Retail

Published: March 21, 2022 | Updated: March 22, 2022

Lou and Steph’s ambition is to be the number one heartfelt, gift-matching service with needi

Lou Doyle: “needi focuses on the warm, wholehearted element of gifting, rather than expensive and extravagant gestures given with little thought.” Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Lou Doyle calls them “pinch me” moments – and she’s had lots of them since launching needi with Co-Founder Steph Scholes.

With 50 per cent of people saying they receive presents they don’t want – and one in five gifts going to landfill – the online marketplace works on a simple premise.

Match a recipient with the perfect gift using psychology-inspired technology.

And not a mass-produced gift but, instead, something individual from a local, independent merchant offering everything from products to practical services and experiences.

The fast-growing business launched its website – needi.co.uk – in June 2021 with the public launch five months later.

So far it has secured more than £140,000 of angel investment with a further £600,000 pledged from a supportive venture capitalist.

needi now has nearly 2,000 gifts, from £9 to £900+, with over 400 hand-picked UK businesses, all sharing needi’s vision.

They range from a personalised wooden chopping board and a soft wool baby bear set to two nights at a quirky vegan B&B in Yorkshire and the chance to live the high life in London as ‘James Bond’ for the day.

Lou, who lives in Westbourne with her husband, Kieran, a dentist, and daughter, Ella, four, said: “We aim to be the world’s most feel-good marketplace, positively impacting people and our planet.

“We only partner with local independents which means we can support small businesses across the country.

“We also have only one amazing retailer per section, per region, meaning they truly are the crème de la crème of that experience or item.

“Our ambition is to be the number one heartfelt, gift-matching service for people wishing to sincerely surprise someone with a gift they would never expect.

“needi focuses on the warm, wholehearted element of gifting, rather than expensive and extravagant gestures given with little thought.

“Heartfelt emotions and careful consideration create the core ethos of the company.

“Each gift is expertly matched with kindness in mind to the person receiving the present.

“needi removes the tricky thought process surrounding ‘what to buy’, guaranteeing a relaxed gifting experience from gifter through to giftee.”

Less than six months after its public launch and needi seems to be hitting the spot with 100 per cent ‘excellent’ reviews on Trustpilot, the independent review platform.

The 37 reviews to date include:

  • “The perfect gifting service, simple, quick and easy to use! Can’t wait to use again for Mother’s Day. Thanks needi.”
  • “I had a great customer service/personal shopping experience given by needi on their matching service while finding the perfect gift. I would really recommend them to family and friends.”
  • “The gift matching service was both helpful and innovative, suggesting tailored gifts which matched my boyfriend perfectly. I loved knowing more about the merchants and their story, great feeling to use a more ethical online marketplace.”

Before launching needi, Lou, 35, who is needi’s CEO, worked for more than ten years at Ringwood-based Camps International, latterly as Director of Group Sales.

Steph, 33, needi’s Sales Director, pictured with Lou, lives in Manchester and was previously Camps International’s UK Sales Manager after being recruited by Lou in 2014.

Lou said: “She’s incredible and we hit it off from day one.

“It’s still early days but we’re very proud of what we’ve already achieved at needi.

“Previously our gift-giving experience was similar to many others.

“We both used Amazon because it’s quick and easy, but then instantly felt bad about it as we saw these massive boxes coming through the post from this huge corporation.

“We want people to be able to find independent brands as easy as scrolling on Amazon and understand that shopping with needi actually looks after the environment and makes you, and the person receiving the gift, feel good.

“Small businesses can’t compete with the likes of massive brands and their marketing teams.

“That is where needi really comes to fruition, it supports local businesses, it isn’t time-consuming and the gift-giving options are inspired, loving and thoughtful.

“It enhances a relationship and takes away the stress of finding a thoughtful gift.

“We’ll also do the hard work for you.

“Answer a few questions and we’ll show you a selection of gifts that are just perfect.”

Lou, who graduated from the London Founder Institute Accelerator Programme with the highest score, said needi now employed eight people.

All are part-time with the exception of Lizzie Scholes, needi’s Head of Feel Good.

needi has also partnered with Make-A-Wish UK which grants life-changing wishes to revive childhood that critical illness often takes away.

For every gift bought from needi’s Make-A-Wish UK merchants, £1 will go straight to the charity.

Lou said: “We created needi to spread joy, strengthen relationships and help people show they care.

“We strongly believe in supporting people in need and making a real difference to people’s lives.

“Make-A-Wish UK embodies everything we are trying to achieve here at needi.”

Steph added: “We are delighted to be partnering with Make-A-Wish UK as, together, we can empower the kindness in gifting and make people smile.”