Dana Ostomel is a marketing and branding expert with nearly a decade of experience developing integrated marketing solutions for brands in a wide range of industries, from Snapple and CENTURY 21 to The Home Depot, DIRECTV and MasterCard.
Years before she got married, she wondered how anyone could store so many presents — and even if they could, how they had the time to accept, unwrap, return (often), track and use them all. It seemed like a second job. Her understanding of consumer behavior led her to believe she could simplify the registry process, and not just for weddings, but for any big gifting event. She set out to create a service that would allow people to get exactly what they wanted, when they wanted it — a fresh, interactive way to say cash would be the perfect gift. And so Deposit a Gift, the next generation gift registry, was born.
Dana Ostomel has a bachelor’s degree in communications from UCLA and also has studied in Israel and Spain. She is fluent in Spanish and loves to travel, exercise and cook. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Mark, and is thrilled about the rave reviews that the site has received so far. It’s really gratifying to help so many users fulfill their dreams.
What are you working on right now?
Right now my focus is on generating more brand awareness for Deposit a Gift through strategic partnerships. We launched at the end of the year and are growing rapidly, and in fact, we are beating our own projections. The amazing and gratifying thing that we’ve learned is that once someone signs up with us, we are definitely delivering on the experience and users are very happy with the flexibility, ease and fun of our service. However, we realize that we are still a small fish in the registry world and that in order to grow we need to get creative in how we generate eyeballs that translate to users.
My other constant focus is on customer service. This is hugely important to us. We want our users to benefit from the flexibility that comes with an online cash gift registry, while still not losing the personal support that they would get from an in-store registry. I try to make myself available to our users as much as they’ll allow to ensure that they know that they can count on us for anything they need during this important moment in their lives.
3 trends that excite you?
1. The slow food movement.
2. Exponential growth of Americans going on study abroad programs, opting to embrace a second language or taking a year to travel/explore post-college.
3. The growth of programs to educate, inspire and empower young girls to set them up for success.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By taking action, talking to people and seeing things through. I dream things up mostly in the shower or on long walks with my husband, and sometimes when I’m falling asleep, which is why I always either have paper near my bed or my BlackBerry close by so I can make a note. Often part of the action taking involves networking, more brainstorming and doing a lot of research to make sure that I’m pulling together the right resources. One thing I like to keep in mind is that it often takes time for a good idea to come together effectively, so as much as I am action oriented and like to move quickly, I’ve learned to be measured in my approach so that the timing is right. After that, it’s all about tenacity. Do you have what it takes to stick with something until the end, even with the most amorphous idea? Launching Deposit a Gift after 18 months of development showed me that I could.
What is one mistake you’ve made our readers can learn from?
The biggest mistake I made was that I went against my gut in making a resource decision. I let myself be taken over by my fear of missing my self-imposed deadline and made a bad choice that was both emotionally draining and costly. I have learned to be better at listening to myself and having the judgment, even in a stressful situation, to properly evaluate the situation and make a good decision.
What is one book and one tool that helps bring your ideas to life?
I found Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Outliers,” to be a great source of inspiration. I love the analysis of all the factors that lead to success and find it motivating to apply his thought process to my own life.
The tool that helps me bring my ideas to life is my past work experience — it’s my foundation. I have been fortunate to have some incredible teachers along the way that taught me how to be strategically creative and capitalize on the intangible skills and tenacity that I was born with to make my vision a reality.
What is the one idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I wanted to invent a portable diaper changing table. I did some research and learned how much harder it is to develop a tangible product, especially in the baby world of heavy regulations. I’ll stick to the ‘net for now, thanks.
Why does the world need another gift registry service?
Believe it or not, we are doing something different. Deposit a Gift is the only Web 2.0 cash gift registry service that works for all of life’s celebrations, allows you to register for anything, functions like a traditional registry and that also offers a free, integrated personal website.
Before we launched the only choices were honeymoon registries that felt limiting, or cash deposit services that didn’t feel classy enough. Deposit a Gift is perfect for all of life’s celebrations, not just weddings, and for any type of gift, not just honeymoons. Our interface is intuitive, clean and familiar, a detail that we believe will facilitate bridging the gap between registering and asking for money.
In fact, you aren’t asking for money, you are registering for: the dream of home ownership, a once in a lifetime honeymoon, the college fund for a new baby or fundraising for new soccer uniforms. The list can go on, and it’s the flexibility of our service that allows Deposit a Gift to be used for any situation. As the way we live changes, this trend and desire for flexibility is growing rapidly because our lives have a different set of needs: we’re more mobile, getting married and having kids later, are more eco-conscious and think longer term. Deposit a Gift is poised to facilitate this shift, while still offering a gratifying gifting experience that is important to gift-givers.
What’s one of the best things that has happened to you in your life?
Twenty-six years ago my Dad and his three siblings decided that they want to make sure all of their kids were close, despite our geography. They began a tradition of family reunions where we get together for a long weekend each summer. It’s amazing how well everyone gets along and looks forward to it each year. I know it’s unique and I feel so lucky to have had grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles who made our family a priority. It’s been one of the greatest gifts of my life.