Kadonation: from group gifts to crowdfunding

Kadonation has grown from a student project into an all-round platform for group gifts, individual gift vouchers and crowdfunding as well. A solid track record of growth, expertly led by Combell.

Kadonation: gifts, donations, a community

Kadonation groepscadeau

The Kadonation concept is the brainchild of Fabrice Guillermin, who developed it as an eighteen-year-old together with two fellow students. The original principle was simple: combine together for a group gift under the motto “make something big out of lots of little things”. That could be a tangible gift you might purchase from one of the partner e-commerce stores (Fun, Coolblue, Zalando...), a unique experience (Bluebear, eKart, Superjump...) or a good cause. Read more about the early days of the project in our report “Start-up Kadonation distributes gifts in Combell’s Cloud”.

The real start of the web service came at the beginning of 2017 when a funding round of 250,000 Euros was raised. Fabrice Guillermin: “It is difficult to break through with no budget. It is no use relying on friends of friends to become known, it takes too long to get the ball rolling.” The platform came out of beta phase and effectively went live.

Kadonation Jelle en Fabrice

Jelle Van Roosbroeck joined the company as a partner. He takes care of finance, legal and HR, while Fabrice Guillermin takes care of back-end development and contacts with the retail partners. In addition, there are several full-time employees, including a marketing manager, community manager and front-end developer, as well as some part-timers including a copywriter and a person responsible for the French-language version of the site, along with several trainees who get the chance to learn in a dynamic environment.

Kadonation: both individual gift vouchers and crowdfunding

Kadonation crowdfunding

The Kadonation concept was further expanded. Fabrice Guillermin: “The joint purchase of a gift is still the core activity, but we also wanted to further develop the 'donation' aspect of the concept, giving something back to society, with donation-based crowdfunding. Platforms already exist that allow you to finance good causes via crowdfunding but they have high commission charges. Since our system is suitable for crowdfunding, it is our ambition to be the cheapest crowdfunding platform in the Benelux. With the 4% transaction cost that we apply purely to cover our transaction costs, we are 3 to 4% cheaper than the cheapest platform.”

Kadonation cadeaubon

The crowdfunding component was launched at the beginning of 2017, and followed later that year by the individual gift voucher. For this, we cooperate with many large retailers, such as A.S.Adventure, Zalando, etc. The special feature of this voucher is that recipients decide for themselves who to spend the money with, and can even divide the voucher over various purchases. “This will enable us to achieve our ambition: to be the primary player on the market for everyone who wants to buy a gift individually or in a group”, says Fabrice.

Our operational scope now extends to the Netherlands, and via the French version, the site is aiming itself at southern Belgium now as well. The number of users has grown to 9,000 and with the launch of the individual gift voucher Kadonation hopes for a significant expansion of its user base.

First contact with Combell via Angel Fund

Good hosting was naturally a key ingredient for building up the concept. Fabrice heard via the iMinds incubator about Combell’s Cloud Angel Webfund . This donated a year’s worth of free Combell hosting, complete with the full service as enjoyed by paying customers. Combell wants to invest in start-ups and keep them from choosing inferior hosting options solely for budget reasons. The Cloud Angel Webfund provides start-ups with the opportunity to get off to a good start and not be held back by limited hosting facilities.

For hosting the website and the associated app, Kadonation opted for Combell managed hosting, consisting of a cloud server with a Debian/Linux environment. Kadonation’s platform, written in PHP Laravel Framework and developed in-house, runs on this system. Among the additional services that Combell provides are Veeam Backup and SLA Pro, which guarantee uninterrupted uptime.

Managed hosting by Combell

A choice that Fabrice still swears by. “The system never varies and always runs perfectly.”

“We went to Combell for the service. Combell does not work with credits that you have to purchase before a problem is solved, you can always call them at no extra cost.”

Combell support team gaat echt die extra mijl

The Combell support team really does go the extra mile

The quality of Combell’s hosting is apparent from many aspects, says Fabrice. “They use quality equipment and uptime is virtually perfect.”

“If there is a chance of a short interruption due to maintenance activity, you are notified in advance, but in the more than 2 years that we have been with Combell, our website has never been down”.

Fabrice really appreciates the fact that the Combell team thinks with him. “Even on questions that are not always purely about system management, I get answers that really help me. For example, if I ask how I can make the site run even better using caching techniques, then they know from experience which solutions have produced a good result for other customers, and which they can recommend to me.”

Generally speaking, the Kadonation team has sufficient technical knowledge to manage everything themselves, but if something goes wrong that is over their heads, Combell is there for them. There was an incident when the platform was still in beta phase, and Fabrice was a finalist for Student Entrepreneur of the Year. Three hours before the results of the elections, something went wrong on the server that completely mystified the Kadonation team. Combell was contacted, and within half an hour everything was back to normal.

The Combell support team also came to the rescue in another incident, says Fabrice: “We saw that our site had started to run very slowly, but could not find the cause. Combell took the time to investigate this, and came to the conclusion that it was a fault in Facebook. Visitors to our website were being constantly simulated, resulting in continuous requests on our servers, whereby in effect we ended up with 100,000 visitors on our site all at once! Obviously, this caused a slowdown, and Combell solved it for us free of charge. Even with all my technical knowledge I would never have been able to figure out and resolve this issue.”

Can Combell hosting be recommended?

The answer to the question to whom would Fabrice recommend Combell hosting is unambiguous: “To anyone working in a business for which online activity is an important component – especially when they have little or no technical knowledge themselves.”

“With Combell, you can have complete peace of mind, and you save the costs of having to employ an in-house system administrator.”

We recommend Combell hosting to everyone to whom online activity is business critical and who does not have any in-depth technical knowledge. [Fabrice Guillermin, founder of Kadonation]

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