The art of gift giving has existed for centuries, and the year is not short with its piles of birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. If like us, you scour shop after shop to find the right gift, then you know the struggle.
Figuring someone’s taste is hard, but finding a gift that matches it is much harder. But you can’t deny how good it feels when you finally find what you’re looking for! Passionate about gifting presents and spreading happiness all around, Jordanian entrepreneur, Ahmad Al-Nees, decided to create papona.com: an online experience dedicated to offer a unique gift giving experience.
How papona.com Came To Be
“I’ve always had a passion for gift giving. I don’t think there’s a better feeling than watching someone’s eyes sparkle when they’re opening their gifts,” explained Al-Nees, who after several years of work in information technology decided to carve a new path.
In December 2016, Al-Nees was doing his favorite activity: gift shopping. While browsing items both in-store and online, he noticed the similarities between various items and the limited offerings available. Al-Nees could not imagine himself gifting someone yet another dull watch or mug with “Merry Christmas” printed on it but instead, wanted something that is different, unusual, and personal.
So, he began to dwell on the idea of opening up his own online gift store with items you don’t typically find laying on a table in Jordanian shops. And so, after months of thoughts and planning, he left KSA and his job behind, returned to Jordan, and launched papona.com in June 2017.
Papona.com At A Glance
What’s interesting about the website is how it’s divided into several categories. You can browse by event, gender, recipient, product, and even the emotions you want your gift to convey!
Moreover, Papona online shop offers various items. Whether you are looking for Arabic calligraphy prints, unique jewelry pieces, or customizable items, they can all be found with a couple clicks.
On the other hand, Al-Nees has made it one of his top priorities to feature handmade work by multiple designers. “Papona is meant to provide you with an experience before all else,” said Al-Nees, “which is why we wanted our website to be easy to use and our items unique. We value creativity and originality when it comes to gifts, and that’s why we aimed at working with talented designers in the first place.”
The Impact of COVID-19
Many businesses were heavily impacted by this unfortunate pandemic, and papona.com was one of them. However, despite the decrease in purchasing power, there was a significant rise in the orders Papona received. “Our online presence and our flexible business model has helped us stay in business despite the pandemic”, explained Al-Nees. Indeed, despite the situation, Father’s Day, birthdays, and anniversaries, to name a few, were not put on hold. And with an entire shop available online and shipping overseas, it was easier and safer to buy a gift from papona.com than to go to stores.
The Tank’s Aid
Al-Nees also reflected on his time at the Tank by Umniah. He explained that Umniah’s business incubator provided the startup with everything necessary to launch and operate, particularly industry knowledge.
He noted the various trainings they have received such as developing their business model, building their plan of action, and operating the startup. Al-Nees also highlighted that his favorite part during incubation period was the networking! As this provided them with many opportunities and new business relationships.
What is Next?
Papona.com’s team is now working extensively on a mobile application set to launch next year. The app aims to encourage social gifting through video and image sharing that’ll spread happiness all around. The Team is putting all the skills they acquired from the Tank into use and hope to have the application available early on next year.
Lastly, Ahmad Al-Nees wanted to share with us his golden rule: identify the right needs. He states that when entrepreneurs create their startup, it merely becomes a solution to its customers’ problems. Therefore, the success of said startup depends on the needs it identified along with its approach to resolving them.
The Jordanian entrepreneur also wanted to send a message to tomorrow’s leaders: “Your road won’t be a straight line, and you’ll ultimately face problems, both moral and financial. However, maintain an unwavering belief in your idea. Even if you have to give up everything to make it see light, so be it. What matters is that you give it your all and fight for it!”