Before interviewing Brittany and Jacob Reiff I visited their site, navigating around in order to get an idea of what their Portland, Oregon based start-up was like.
When I believed I had concrete understanding of what their cleverly-named site, Wantist offered, I interviewed them.
Moving from Dallas to Austin to Portland to Denver and Portland again, the Reiff’s young, creative minds have so much experience and so many layers of potential gained from a variety of inspiration, it’s no wonder their part of Google Chromebook and their business has so much klout.
Wantist is so much more than an efficient way to buy gifts online.
After Brittany, Jacob and I finished chatting, I immediately went back to their site and explored it in more detail. I realized what little instruction it requires and how easy it is to use (I realized it before visiting it again allowed me to articulate it).
As a consumer, it’s easy to browse through a site’s contents, clicking through colourful thumbnails and never think about the time and planning that goes into offering a smooth user experience.
However, listening to the concepts and consideration the Reiff’s have built into their business – I understand now, the more simple the site the more difficult it is to make it that way.
I’d like to extend a personal congratulations to the tremendous success Brittany and Jacob have achieved in their business’s youthful 13 months existence. I encourage you to take a look around and have your online shopping experience changed for the better.
What was Wantist like when you first started and how has it evolved?
Brittany: We had an idea we wanted to flush out. Wantist in it’s original form was launched just as blog that directed people to products we loved and had a good story. But what we found was this blog was taking all our time, and taking time away from building the thing that was the bigger idea.
Jacob: We launched the application in November with the sentence interface.
Brittany: So we went back to the drawing board and re-launched as wantist as you know it now last November. And we’ve re-launched the blog now, bringing on writers and contributors.
Jacob: Our original plans were on a much bigger scale, from the pre-sale and post-sale of a product. But when we started on it, we realized it was a bigger scale than we wanted to do at this point and from a business standpoint, in order to support such a site, we talked about simplifying and pairing it down.
What was the inspiration behind Wantist?
Brittany: We thought, how simple can we make finding a gift online? We see suggestions like “Great Gifts For Dad” But what if my dad isn’t like your dad? What if my dad is handy man and never plays golf? We thought it would be far more interesting and useful to sort through things by personality types.
Jacob: We both have a background in retail and like a good sales person who asks you, “Who are you buying for? What are they like?” That was something we wanted to offer online.
Do you ever turn work off when you turn your monitors off?
Brittany: We’ll go to dinner and say “Let’s not talk about work.” And we’ll pause and the next thing out of our mouths is about work. I would say that’s the most challenging aspect is getting away from work because this is the partner you work with. Can you think of anything else?
Jacob: No, I’d say that’s about it! Otherwise I’m completely happy!
How has owning a start-up effected your relationship?
Jacob: Every day when you own a start-up is a challenge. Some curve ball is thrown your way with a new hurdle to deal with. It’s uniquely special to be able to share that with your partner. Not only does Brittany know why I’m super happy at 11am but frustrated at noon, she gets to share it all not only as my business partner but as my wife.
Brittany: Owning a start-up is a rollercoaster. Period. That can be challenging but when you’re doing it with your spouse, it’s not like you get to come home to someone who’s had a totally different day. There is nobody I’d rather be spending time with so we feel really fortunate.
You’ve had a few very exciting breakthroughs in your business since launching. What are you most proud of?
Jacob: I’d say it was when Google contacted us and said they wanted to use Wantist as a stop on their future web step promotion for their Chromebook. That was a few months ago and was pretty cool. It was a pretty good week for us.
Brittany: Yea, it was pretty exciting! We couldn’t believe it when we got the email.
What is your favourite part about working two-gether?
Brittany: (Laughing) Lunch breaks! And the flexibility and even though there are times that you’re stressed, you’re still with the person you want to be with the most.
Jacob: I like the idea that we’re responsible for growing our future. We have a project that is our full time gig together that directly influences our own future.