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Allan Symonette, Founder of Surcee, Shares His Mission to Promote Meaningful Giving

Laura MacPherson October 22, 2018

This post is part of our “Startup Stories” series – where we feature select Designli clients with the goal of highlighting their products, their inspiration, and what has motivated them to tackle the world of building a digital startup.

Allan Symonette is on a mission to deepen family and friend relationships through his website and app, called Surcee. We spoke with Allan to learn more about what sparked the idea for Surcee and his vision for his company.

photo of startup founder

Tell me a bit about your company. Can you share your elevator pitch with us?

These days, we should be so engaged with the people we care most about — our family and friends. But we just don’t keep up with everyone’s changing interests like we used to. We’re so connected today, but are we really?

Surcee is a giving and sharing platform where people can communicate their interests—whether it’s a handbag, golf club, or a favorite charity—and their friends and family members can visit their profiles to see what they are into now.

“Surcee” is a Southern word that means “surprise,” and it describes a gift that’s perfectly suited to the recipient, given out of love. If you’re giving someone a surcee, you know they’re going to love it.

What’s your origin story? How did your company come to be?

Not everyone is good at gift-giving, myself included. I never know what to give people, I let important dates sneak up on me then go in panic mode! After a particularly painful miss on an anniversary gift for my wife, I was lamenting to a friend, “Why isn’t there an app out there where people can share what really makes them happy, what they really love?”

I’ve been married 26 years, so I should know what my wife would love as an anniversary gift. But I didn’t. I decided to create the platform that I wished I’d had earlier because I have to imagine others have the same struggle.

What prompted you to start your company at the specific time that you did?

My friends that I shared the idea with were very encouraging about building the platform for a couple of years before I took the plunge. And then my wife brought me an article that was about a guy who created a fake Pinterest profile so he could go on his wife’s profile to see what she was pinning, to gather gift ideas.

I realized that there really is a need for the app, and I didn’t want to waste any more time.

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How has your initial idea changed since you first started your business?

I started focusing more on the significance of a surcee. To give a surcee you have to really know a person. I want to know more about my friends, to know them on a deeper level. What they really care about, what gets them excited, what charities they love.

So the app is designed to help people not only give gifts, but also to help them get to know one another better and grow their relationships.

A calendar will remind you of the birthdays/anniversaries/special dates you want to remember and links will take you directly to each individual’s profile.

You’ll also have the ability to share memories and experiences with your friends and family.

What’s the most rewarding thing about running a company? And what’s the hardest?

It feels like becoming a parent for the first time. My baby is about to be born.

I’m excited, but I wonder, “Can I raise it? Do I have the skill set? Am I ready for this?” Uncertainty is the challenge. But I realize that it’s about persistence and bringing in people to help who have the experience I don’t have.

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Who inspires you?

I have two sons — Jack and Sam. Both our boys are adopted and continually overcome significant challenges in their lives.

They have reason to complain but rarely do, they approach each day head on and they don’t quit.

How can I?

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

There were so many people who encouraged me to move forward and do this. A couple of different people have kept me going. There are a lot of risks, a lot of doubts, but it’s worth it. And the people who regularly ask me how it’s going keep me moving forward.

What has been your biggest mistake or challenge when starting a business and what insights did you gain from it?

The biggest mistake I’ve made is not asking for help sooner.

It’s hard for me to ask for help. I want to be able to do everything on my own. But if you want to start something, you need a variety of types of support, including financing.

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What advice would you offer to new startup founders or those who are in the early stages of starting a company?

You’re going to need help, so don’t be afraid to ask for it. And it’s got to be something that you know in your gut you have to do.

It can’t just be an idea that you have as a way to make money, because you’re going to need something to keep you going.

You’re going to have to make tough decisions, and it will be tempting to give up. It’s only your mission that will keep you going.

Want to follow Allan on his journey? Visit Surcee on the web by visiting https://surcee.com

Ready to chat with the Designli team about bringing your own app idea to life? Contact us here.

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