AskHerFriends founder launches business after he bought worm farm for his girlfriend

In Christmas 2005 founder Ben Blomerley, who launched AskHerFriends.com,A website for recommendations on what men can get women, decided to buy his girlfriend a worm farm. His logic was: she loved gardening; worms break down compost faster than bacteria; she would appreciate something for her hobby.

It wasn’t to be: the relationship promptly ended – but it did give him an idea. It occurred to him that the mistake he’d made was a common one. Men, he says, think of the practical uses of buying a gift before buying, whereas women think first of the emotional value. “My worm farm idea is a standard trap that men fall into. Men can be quite sensitive about gift-giving, they worry about getting it wrong. So to mitigate the risk of getting it wrong they get something practical they know she will find useful.”

“Getting a personal gift is always risky. It might work perfectly, but it might be terrible. I started wondering: for every 100 I spend, what is the value “

“The business for me was an outlet. I got into the habit that, when I was talking to friends or colleagues or journalists, telling them to think about the gift they want to buy; are they falling into this trap [like I did]” It’s very cathartic.

“One guy said, ‘you’re just like Funky Pigeon’. It’s not true. I would be willing to bet quite a lot of money that most of their customers are men. Because men don’t put much value by a card. Women are more likely to do something more handmade.”

The website sells a range of products for gift-giving, both traditional and alternative. AskHerFriends.com runs on an algorithm that shows the most relevant gifts to shoppers, as well as co-operating with bloggers to provide more human recommendations.

“We also encourage visitors to think more broadly about what giving a gift means, i.e. that it’s a process of doing something nice for someone. So we also give help and advice on how to make a gift at home, or easy recipes to cook.”

It’s still early days. The business is obviously looking forward to peak gift-giving season, Christmas. “Last year, while we were starting up, we made revenues of about 60k. Let’s see what happens this year!”

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