Interview With Wantful Founder John Poisson

Posted Aug 24, 2012

Wantful is a startup company that helps you find the perfect gift for any occasion.  Wantful lets shoppers curate a personalized custom collection of sixteen gift choices from their collection of thousands of products.  The collection of gifts is presented to the recipient in a custom-printed gift book that is wrapped in Japanese rice paper and delivered in an embossed black envelope.  The recipient opens their gift book, discovers the products chosen for them, and then selects the one item that they want to receive.

Wantful is about a year old and this is John Poisson’s fourth startup.  Wantful has offices in San Francisco and New York City and has $5.5 million in funding from Polaris Venture Partners, Harrison Metal Capital, Greylock Partners, Forerunner Ventures, Arjun Sethi, and Dave Morin.

Some of the other questions I asked Mr. Poisson about include information about Wantful’s origin, demographics, why they decided on 16 gift choices in the book, the challenges of partnering with multiple designers, and how their supply chain works.


When I asked Poisson about how he came up with the idea of Wantful, he said that he lived in Japan for a while and learned a lot about the gift-giving culture there.


Poisson said that many of their customers are from a broad group.  The customers are generally between the ages of 20 and 60.  The customers tend to be style-driven and a majority of them are in large cities.

Why 16 Gift Choices?:

Poisson told me that the company reviewed a multiple number of options.  Numbers lower than 16 tended to be too little and above 16 seemed like too many options.  The 16 options gifts the recipient the perfect number of choices and “eight does not feel compelling.”

Challenges Of Working With Multiple Designers:

Wantful works very hard at finding the best designers to work with them and that takes time.  The company works hard at making sure that the products are not found by mainstream retailers.  The company currently works with hundreds of designers.

How Does Wantful’s Supply Chain Work?

Wantful works with large drop-shippers.  When the recipient chooses the gift, the order gets sent to the drop-shipper.