By Sunita Sehmi, Walk The Talk
Frederik Van Lierde wants to create an easy solution for users to find a perfect gift for the people they love and have more time to spend with them.
He also wants to create an easy solution for businesses to connect with existing and future customers so they can grow their business and have more time to spend with their customers.
He has reached this goal, by using the latest available technology in a smart way and by putting the customer and his/her branding at the core of his/her own business.
More importantly, Frederik and his team are committed to creating the easiest, fastest, and safest experience for offering the right gift, anywhere in the world.
I was fortunate enough to talk to him about his business, Gift Voucher Kiosk - prepare to be amazed!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are and where you are from, etc.
At 9 years old, I had my first “business” experience, at the family company in Belgium. From that moment on, I felt the “entrepreneur bacteria” flowing inside me. I got the opportunity via my family to work during the weekends and was able to go to the University of Ghent, studying Economics for 2 years, and continue at BMI to study Information Technology.
I was lucky to finish my studies during the golden age of IT, which gave me opportunities to take on jobs at a young age at multinational companies, traveling and managing teams worldwide. After several years of being an employee, I switched to offering a consultancy service to banks, trading companies and governments, before finally moving on to launch my own business, Gift Voucher Kiosk. In my spare time, next to enjoying my family, I speak for EPFL about entrepreneurship, mentor a few start-ups and read books.
What is Gift Voucher Kiosk about?
Gift Voucher Kiosk is about two related important ideas. We believe that for any person, having precious time with real friends is very important. We don’t want people to waste their time running around searching and shopping for a gift, we want them to find a gift their friends really like in a fast, safe way so that they can spend more quality time with them.
We have achieved this by creating an App on Facebook, which links gifts your friends like to their birthday notifications.
At the same time, companies need to grow and make sales to be sustainable in the long term and we believe that taking care of their customers is the best way to reach this.
So, at Gift Voucher Kiosk we help businesses make online sales of gift vouchers an easy, profitable and painless process so that they have more time for to interact with their customers.
We have achieved this by offering a solution, which lets the principle of “word-of-mouth” work online.
What got you into this?
The foundation of Gift Voucher Kiosk was built on the information I got from customers of a local business I was managing before. As customer service and experience are the keystones of success, one story always came back: customers told me they came from the other part of the city to pick up a gift voucher and they also made the remark it was a long way. For me this was a sign that people make more effort for real friends, even though it was a hassle.
Gift Voucher Kiosk has now launched in Geneva: the platform is available for any business in the world to use, although we only allow officially registered companies and several checks are done to guarantee a 100% voucher protection for their users.
For businesses and users, trust is important: we are a "slow marketing company" as we only push ideas around a specific birthday, so we work on the long term. We don't need to waste time offering thousands of ideas, as we can focus on those that we know our customers' friends really like.
In the same way that Mark Zuckerberg's goal is to connect the whole world, at Gift Voucher Kiosk we want to connect all brands with their customers and friends. We do this by presenting brands at the right moment in front of the right person.
Could you tell us more about your idea behind giftvoucherkiosk.com?
Gift Voucher Kiosk has created a Facebook App where users can add their own wish list as well as consulting their friends' wish lists, in order to be able to offer a real gift instantly. Creating wish lists is as easy as liking a Facebook Page on a brand website. As the world gets more and more connected, families and friends are not always living in the same region. We see a lot of users offering a gift to a friend abroad. This used to be much more difficult before and we would have to spend a long time searching on Google.
As a business, we don’t know all the information about our clients like their birthdays or their friends' names, etc. So we had to come up with a solution that would enable Facebook to show up their advertising at the right moment to a client’s friends, in a way that is not spammy but is easy to use.
It’s a platform with more than 1 billion active daily users, it is a platform you simply can’t miss out on. Facebook is the perfect platform for this kind of business as it tells us, via notifications, when our friends have their birthday, and shows us what our friends really like so that we can offer the perfect gift . . . and so we brought all these insights together. This is exactly what we are offering.
We analyse what you like and we propose to your friends what you like so they can offer a gift you like instantly.
We call it “slow marketing”.
Our philosophy has been to create a win/win for everyone. We have also listened to the needs of our business clients where cash flow is particularly important. We pay out all vouchers sold instantly, whereas our competitors pay out after x days or only when the voucher is redeemed. This is an important selling point for us.
NY Times wrote about some research, which concluded that most people like to receive a gift they like, independent of the time, effort or price you put into searching for the perfect gift.
Who is it for?
The app is for everyone preferring to enjoy quality time with friends and family, as well as not wasting time and money on gifts people don’t like. The platform is for every business, which takes itself seriously by deepening connections with customers and outsourcing the technical part. Until now, no partner has lost out by signing up on our platform. We have connected people and brands from a Tattoo shop in Amsterdam up to 5-star hotels in Cape Town, from a small 1-person beauty institute in Brisbane Australia up to online shops.
What is the best piece of advice you ever got?
It comes from my grandfather and my father; while I was working during the weekends at the family business, they always told me to listen to your customers and your employees, as they pay your bills at the end of month.
I live my life with this in mind. Building something that is helpful for customers (and employees) and giving them a great experiences and making a better world for everyone.
It must always be a win/win or no deal situation.
How do you see giftvoucherkiosk.com growing in the future?
After we have created the platform and app and tested with our current partners and customers, we will push more PR and meet more local businesses to sign up to cover more regions in the world. Asia, Africa and Middle East will become an important region for Gift Voucher Kiosk, as people have easier access to mobiles compared to desktops and we can offer an easy, profitable solution to businesses. We will work with local entrepreneurs and invite them to join the team. We will not forget the traditional markets like Europe and USA. I believe Gift Voucher Kiosk is stable enough to grow in all different markets independently at different speeds. Technology wise, AI and online robots will join the team; in fact we already have one robot helping us out with basic tasks, this way the team can concentrate on the personal interaction with customers and partners.
What’s the next challenge for us?
The next challenge for us, as humans, is to embrace technology in a positive way, to use it to empower real life communications. It is not “technology” or “not technology”, it’s about how you link both lives (online and offline) in a positive way. We should use technology to strengthen connections and create a positive future. We believe with our platform / app that we can contribute a little bit to this goal.
What’s next for you?
Even I have other ideas; the following months (and years) I will be concentrating on connecting customers and brands and growing the community of sustainable businesses. I will work towards incorporating ourselves with a major player to create the best result for people and brands. I will support my team 100% to show companies that stress-free online customer service is a cornerstone to success and should be part of their strategy, whatever business you run, small or big, in emerging and developing countries, etc. Together we will show that technology can help to deepen connections between people by sharing happiness.
Anything else we need to know?
I can talk many more hours how start-ups, local businesses and other corporations can use technology for the best. I invite all of you, when you are curious, to contact me personally so that we can discuss freely how technology can create a better future for your company, your employees and your customers, by sharing some happiness (in our case in the form of a gift).
Reference: To find out more about Frederick and giftvoucherkiosk.com go to
Sunita is an Executive Coach, Trainer and Consultant. She is of Indian origin and was born in London before moving to Geneva in 1992. She has a Psychology background (specialising in Occupational Psychology) and a Post Graduate in the Development and Training of Adults. She also completed a Masters in Ressources Humaines, Coaching et Gestion des Carrières at the University of Geneva.
During her 25 years experience Sunita's drive has always been to help people to do their best and hence led her to create Walk The Talk.
In her free time Sunita is a Mentor for the Branson Center of Entrepreneurship and a proud member of the School in The Cloud Team.