I love surprises.. well who dosen’t! I am into all that sappy stuff a surprise picnic, unplanned dinner or travelling – an old romantic like that! I love receiving gifts specially surprises but i get a lot of joy when i plan something special for someone be it my fiance, my friend my sister or my mother! The whole journey to making plans for the party and finding the oh so lovely gift but the look on one’s face when they get a gift is priceless. The only thing is that there is a dearth of gifts when it comes to personalized gifting i mean you obviously wont find that personal touch in stores in the malls or your local archies!
I came across this very fun online gifting service Any surprise Any Place a very fitting name to the amazing work they do. After all they deliver experiences not just gifts! All thanks to Ruchi Chopra who founded ASAP when a friend wanted to have pizza and she wanted to surprise her! The best part is that ASAP knows no limits when it comes to surprising so all you need is an idea in your head( of course your wallet too) and they become the gifting helpers you need..
I got the chance to talk to this beautiful lady who squeezes out all her creative juices to give you exactly what you are looking for.
Excerpts from the interview
thebridalbells (TBB) : So how did asap come about?
Ruchi Chopra (RC) :The idea came to me in Oct 2006 when I was sitting at work at a multi national I worked for and a hostel friend messaged me saying “I want Pizza”. It was one of those messages from a old hostel friend I could have smiled at and thought : “yeah, me too”
But I didn’t, instead I decided am gonna send her a pizza from me.
Sitting at work pondering over how the hell do I do this when I have to be at work till 7 and run for a work dinner right after. I walked into the balcony area of my office and I started called the pizza service to deliver the pizza to her and take the money from me. It would have been a 2 km detour and I was more than wiling to pay for that detour, even double the cost. From that time at work till my travel to my dinner place, I spent 40 minutes with a pizza place over the phone trying to explain to them how this was a simple thing to be done for a friend and I want to pay for it. Finally, the detour option didn’t work, so I promised them that a friend would go to another outlet and pay for the pizza. I entered my dinner with a sense of peace that I got it done. Half an hour later I got a message from my friend saying : hey, thanks for the pizza and so on.. I was delighted!!
An hour later I got a call from my friend who went to pay for the pizza at another outlet saying: they wont take the money because this order has already been paid for. I spoke to them and they said it was paid at on delivery. WOW!!!!!! I said to myself..
I called my hostel friend to check if she had paid for it, and she very naturally said: ya, ofcourse. They gave me the bill, I paid for it.
I ate the rest of the meal with a shocked look on my face. The whole point of surprising her and giving her something from me WAS LOST. It was a disaster!!!!!!!!!!
I started to think that night, THIS was just a pizza.. the least complicated of all gifts one has to `think of.. in a case when u know what a person wants and what pleases them and u don’t have to spend hours thinking of what to send them.. 80% problem solved. And yet we couldn’t achieve that 20% by just organizing it..
There must be, it thought a zillion people who want to do something nice for someone ..
One : they don’t have the time and are stuck at work
Two: they don’t even have ideas..
I started working on the concept ……. And ASAP short for Any Surprise Any Place & for As Soon As Possible, the name came from scribbling over a paper tissue sitting with a friend.. got my legal aspects in place, got the name of company trademarked..
TBB: What inspires you your creative ideas?
RC: Romantic movies, things i hear girl friends say: i wish ladka aise hota jo eh kare.. voh kare, internet- what people do for each other across the world..
TBB: Any favorites?
RC: Customised monopoly- i love that gift. its super personal because everything is customized on the board and i have great memories playing the game- for me its timeless and specially when its created with my school name and places i have been bought up in instead of lake palace etc. its perfect!
TBB: There are a lot of “online gifting sites” out there. How is ASAP different?
RC : We deliver experiences. There is a reason why we have not made our website with the -add to cart- system. We want to understand what our client wants. There are so many choices. You can pick a gift from the site or ask for something totally different.Tell us about your friend/ son/ grand dad, we will accordingly plan something for them. For a set of grandparents who couldn’t get out of the house- we sent a portrait artist home to sketch a picture of theirs and frame and gift it to them at home and return. Its about understanding and being flexible to a client- its about touching someones heart and not having a fixed cart of gifts waiting for delivery!
TBB: How can one personalize this service?
>> You can call or e mail and say : i want to do a gift for my dog but he isn’t allowed chocolate. he can only eat hersery’s white sauce and ofcourse pedigree. We will create a cake for your little pup with pedigree and hershey’s white sauce. We don’t like to give our clients set products- I can send a 10 kg cake to your dog for his birthday , but its pointless that he wont enjoy it!
You can call and tell us which is your son’s favorite cartoon character and we shall send customized balloons and masks with just those characters. Its all about understanding your client.
Twitter handle : @keepsurprising
Facebook : ASAP- Any surprise any Place
Leaving you with some lovely images of their recent surprising ventures!
So go on start surprising ASAP!!