All Together Now

A unique group video platform looks to shake up the e-gifting market

Photo: VidHug founder, Zamir Khan

IN TODAY’S CULTURE of click-to-order shopping ­services, birthday presents should be a piece of cake. But how often do consumers find themselves opting for a meaningless gadget or email greeting and missing the opportunity to truly convey a feeling?

Zamir Khan found himself wondering the same thing after brainstorming ideas for his mother’s 70th birthday with his friends and family.
“My mother’s never been interested in material gifts, and as an immigrant, most of her family and friends lived too far away to celebrate in person,” Khan recounts. “Asking people all over the world, some in their 80s, to record a video and send it to me was a challenge.”

Nonetheless, after painstakingly editing the short clips, the video compilation was met with tears of joy. “The overall process had been quite labour intensive, and so I thought, what if the whole thing could be automated? That could enable anyone, not just people with the right skills and equipment, to deliver this kind of joy.”

In what Khan describes as a “classic scratch-your-­own-itch story,” the surprise group video service VidHug was born.

“Many recipients of a VidHug have told us it was the best gift they ever received. How many times have you heard that about a greeting card? —Zamir Khan

Aiming to remove barriers in order to make a group video gift accessible by any demographic, Khan soon began to hear stories of other individuals challenged by the constraints of distance when it came to showing loved ones they were thinking of them—even with giants like traditional greeting card companies and e-cards in the long-distance gifting space.

“I didn’t really target the industry as much as I was drawn to solving a pain point,” Khan says.

Perhaps the key differentiator between VidHug and the traditional greeting card is that with a little bit more effort on a helpful web platform, consumers can create a gift with so much more sentimental value—something Khan has learned through customer feedback.

“Many recipients of a VidHug have told us it was the best gift they ever received. How many times have you heard that about a greeting card? The online equivalent of a Hallmark greeting card is probably closer to writing happy birthday or posting an animated gif on someone’s Facebook wall—relatively low-effort gestures that don’t elicit much emotion.”

On his entrepreneurial journey, Khan has excelled by understanding the path his potential customer takes to arrive at his service, as well as picking up new use cases along the way.

Zamir Khan

“While consumer occasions like birthdays are what drive VidHug today, we are regularly approached by businesses looking for a fun and special way to recognize employees, thank volunteers and even engage customers,” he explains.

With this in mind, VidHug has plans to pursue a new market with the launch of a B2B service for employee and customer engagement.

Khan insists the process behind each milestone relies on hard work and celebrating the little wins for each customer as a source of motivation through validation. “As a ­software engineer, I had no previous experience in the gifting or greeting space, so it’s been a baptism by fire in terms of learning about the market and how to tackle it.”

His belief in eliminating barriers to entry serves as a key to seeing VidHug succeed.

“At present, most people don’t even consider a group video as a possible surprise gift, either because they’ve never heard of the idea or because they don’t think they have the ability. When enough people have sent, participated in or even heard of surprise group videos to make them a regular gift suggestion, VidHug will have succeeded.” 

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