Saturday, June 4, 2016

Meet Reece Kenney, Creator of Present Finder

Reece Kenney is a software engineer from England and the creator of an iPhone app called Present Finder. The app helps you find the perfect gift for anyone by asking you a series of questions about your intended gift recipient. Reece operates a technology company called Cyber Shark Technology which specializes in websites, software, and logo design.

1. What gave you the idea for Present Finder?

Well, the inspiration for this app came from the fact that I'm awful at picking out gifts for people. No really, I am absolutely hopeless! Unless the recipient shares similar interests to me, you probably wouldn't be overly impressed with the gift I pick out! I would spend ages scrolling for the "gifts for him/her" pages of various websites, and 90% of the gifts I saw were either not relevant or not interesting... I wanted a list of gifts that were specific to the person I was buying for e.g. a 19 year old male student who likes sci-fi, doesn't drive, and doesn't care for sports. And so, Present Finder was born! 

2. How did you come up with the questions to help find the perfect gift?

It mostly came down to how the items were categorized. I wanted to cover as many areas as I could in as little questions as possible so that the user could get through them quickly. In order to keep the number of questions to a minimum, but still provide accurate suggestions, the algorithm has to make some assumptions based on answers given. For example, would a person who said that they dislike sports be interested in a desktop football game? It's not a sport, but it is a game based on a sport. Or would someone who said they dislike cars be interested in a remote control car toy? So I just thought of all the questions that would allow me to cover a large amount of categories. I am planning on introducing an "advanced" mode where the user will see more questions. This means the app will be able to provide even more accurate suggestions!

3. What are some examples of the gifts that the app suggests?

Oh there are tons of gifts in our database! We have everything from Bluetooth speakers, to emoji pillows, to funny novelty items. Our most popular item based on the number of clicks and favorites is actually an item called "Nothing." It is literally an empty box for people that when asked what they want for their birthday, responded with "oh, nothing."

4. What was your process like in building the app?

It was pretty tough, honestly. It actually ended up taking the best part of a year because I took a break halfway through. I started working on it during my final year of university as I had finished my class work early and had some free time. I was finding it difficult to create the algorithm and eventually put the project on hold once my next classes started. A couple of months later I revisited the project and figured out a way to get it all to work. Many months of programming later, the app was ready for release! 

5. In your own experience giving and receiving gifts, what do you think separates a great gift from a mediocre one?

If you had asked me this question when I was a child, I probably would have told you the larger the gift size the better! But now I find that it's not so much the size or price of the gift that makes a gift great, but if you can see that the person genuinely purchased it with you in mind (as opposed to just buying a generic gift for a 22 year old male, for example), that's what makes it great. Oh, unusual gifts are cool, too!

Thanks, Reece!

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