These Two Best Friends Are Revolutionizing Gift Giving
Success stories

These Two Best Friends Are Revolutionizing Gift Giving

This content was created by Girlboss, in collaboration with GroupTogether.

If you’ve ever been “voluntold” to organize your boss’ retirement present or your best friend’s bachelorette goodie bags, then you know the struggle all too well. Chasing down everyone to sign a card, Venmo notifications blowing up your phone, finding a totally-unique, never-been-done-before gift that they’ll actually use… we’re exhausted just thinking about it.

Best friends and busy moms Julie Tylman (right) and Ali Linz (left) felt a similar sense of gifting dread when they were in the thick of the child birthday party circuit when they thought to themselves, there has to be a better way to give gifts. We spend on average 150 hours a year organizing gifts. Think about all of that invisible (read: unpaid) labor.

The alternative? Group gifting. “It’s a no brainer. You get one amazing gift (think: higher-priced items like concert tickets, a nice bottle of wine, a cool piece of tech) rather than 20 knick knacks. But it’s a hassle,” says Linz. “What starts as a very simple idea, and a very pure notion, turns into a logistical nightmare.”

That’s why Tylman and Linz created GroupTogether, an easier way to give group gifts, in 2015. It's incredibly easy and streamlines the process. You can set up a gift collection in less than five minutes. Just share the link, and everyone signs and pays online, all in one place. Choose from 150+ eGift cards delivered digitally, flowers, hampers and gifts delivered to your door, and/or the virtual AnyCard that lets the recipient pick.

“Women are the go-to person for these sorts of things. Guys will throw up their hands and say, ‘Well, you do it,’ because they don’t see themselves as being capable,’ says Tylman. Adds Linz: “About 65 percent of our users are women, and they fall into two categories: Those who do it because they really want to, and the others who are ‘voluntold.’” (We delve deeper into the topic of thankless work in a Girlboss Radio episode with two members of The No Club.)

The gifting revolution is here. Here’s the proof: GroupTogether has more than 1.5 million users. They just expanded to the US in January and already have 250K American users. “Okay, we’re onto something,” Linz remembers thinking. Adds Tylman: “We are the customer, so it makes it that much easier to figure out where you’re going.”

Linz, who has had an impressive career in marketing, working for Unilever and DDB Sydney, always knew she wanted to start a business of her own. “I wanted to do something for myself. I was just looking for the idea,” she says. Tylman’s reason was a bit different. After working in New York City in IT consulting, then moving to San Francisco to work for Merrill Lynch as an equity analyst, being in corporate had its drawbacks. “The glass ceiling really does exist, and after having kids, going back to that environment didn’t really appeal to me,” she says.

So, what’s the alternative? Going into business with your best friend. They describe it as not just being in a marriage but like having a child together. “I’ve definitely spent more time with Ali than the rest of my family,” says Tylman. While they don’t have any hard-and-fast rules to keep their personal and professional relationships balanced, there’s one thing they’ll never do. “We don’t fly off the handle at each other,” says Linz. “When things are hot, we suck it up.”

Tylman and Linz have other business lessons that they’re passing down to Linz’s daughter, who is a budding entrepreneur. Have a co-founder (“When you run into those brick walls, it's nice to have someone who can pick you up,” says Tylman), be flexible and adaptable (“Being able to read the tea leaves was very valuable,” says Tylman) and focus on progress over perfection (“If you wait until things are perfect and proven, you’ll never make it,” says Linz).

And these co-founders/busy moms/BFFs aren’t stopping or slowing down until they’ve made their goals a reality. For Linz, it’s “scaling this business. It’s not about the money. It’s about the achievement. It was my challenge to myself at the beginning that I could do this to a certain scale. Not a small business but a big tech business that has value.” And for Tylman? “GroupTogether becoming a verb.”

And now onto Rapid Fire… Who are you inspired by?

Ali: “Australian female founder Melanie Perkins of Canva.”

Julie: “I just watched a show about the Matildas, who are the national soccer team here in Australia. And Sam Kerr by far. She’s my new inspiration.

How do you unwind at the end of a long day?

Ali: “There's no such thing as a woman with four children unwinding. It's just not a thing.”

Julie: “I definitely have a lot more time than Ali. But I love soaking in the bath and listening to music.”

How many unread emails do you have?

Ali: “I never have unread work emails, really, but I have something like 6,500 emails that are unfiled in my inbox.”

Julie: “None by the end of the day, but right now, I have 340 in my inbox.”

What are some qualities you look for in an employee?

Ali: “Who is really going to care about our business? Who is really into their work? They’ve got to be excited enough to give it their all.”

Julie: “Do you want to sit next to them? It’s a really insightful way of looking at a person, not only for their skillset and for what they’ve accomplished, but also, can you relate to this person?”

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Julie: “You don't have to internalize all this angst from the business and make yourself miserable. So, just let it go. Just move on to the next thing.”

Worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Ali: “Our lawyers told us, ‘You’re not a bank. No one will ever trust you with their money.’ That was 1.5 million customers ago.”

What does “girlboss” mean to you?

Ali: “It's joyous. ‘Girlboss’ has an energy. It has a bit of a wind in your sails and a bit of anarchy.”

Julie: “The word that popped into my head was, ‘happy.’ It's owning that idea of [being a] girl, which could be pejorative, [but] it's not. We get things done. We do this. This is us.”

Group gifting without the hassle? Get started with GroupTogether today.