Finding a unique gift

JC entrepreneur wins contest for startup
Alice Kittrell went from working in her family’s restaurant to winning an award for a startup company
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Alice Kittrell went from working in her family’s restaurant to winning an award for a startup company

Jersey City-based entrepreneur Alice Kittrell has just been named the winner of the 1850 Brand Coffee Bold Pioneer Contest, a national competition that invited aspiring entrepreneurs to bring forth their bold enterprising ideas for an opportunity to receive mentorship and $18,500 in funding.

The contest kicked off in July in conjunction with the launch of 1850, a premium coffee brand “embodying the hustle and grind of today’s pioneers.”

Born and raised in the tri-state area, Kittrell lived in Manhattan for eight years previously and has been in Jersey City for about four years.

“Jersey City holds more of a special place in my heart than my childhood home, since it’s where my husband and I bought our first home and are currently raising our family,” she said. “It’s a wonderful place to live since it feels like such a close-knit community and I want to build my business here and support the local economy.”

Gift selection made easy

Kittrell will use the prize money to help fund and support her “bold enterprising idea”, a startup named Outgift. This is a gifting service that combines machine learning, a curated product portfolio, and a social sharing platform. Outgift aims to help consumers find the right gift for every person and occasion.

“I started Outgift because I wanted to help people honor the meaningful relationships in their lives by finding their loved ones the perfect gifts, and I want them to have fun in the process,” said Kittrell. “I’ve always been an extremely hard-working person. I grew up working every day after school and on weekends at our family Chinese take-out restaurant and was always accustomed to hard work. I got a scholarship to attend a college close to home so I could continue to work at our family restaurant on weekends at the same time.”

She said she worked several jobs to get through college and was determined to start her own business.

“Growing up, we didn’t have much money, and so we couldn’t afford to celebrate special moments like birthdays and holidays,” she said. “But I’d save pocket money throughout the year so my siblings would have gifts to open on Christmas day.”

This became part of the inspiration for her startup company.

The inspiration for Outgift started at home

“My husband is not the best gift giver and the process is actually quite stressful to him,” she said. “A few years ago, he really struggled to get me something meaningful for my birthday, and after seeing how stressful the process was on him, I decided that I needed to build something to help.”

The Outgift team reviews and selects new products.

“One of my favorite items that we’ve featured is from a lovely small business and jeweler Everett that makes beautiful, classic, custom diamond rings and necklaces,” she said, noting that it actually did help her husband. “At first he was reluctant, thinking that the idea was from the site and so wouldn’t be a surprise, but I was still pleasantly surprised and he was so grateful to have gotten me a gift that I loved and that the process couldn’t have been easier on him.”

Outgift is currently available throughout the United States.

“Our plans for the future are to expand to a wider audience and help even more people find gifts for everyone in their life,” she said. “Winning the 1850 Bold Pioneer Contest has been so incredibly humbling and we’re so excited that America wants to support our company. The funding that we received from the 1850 Bold Pioneer Contest is going toward developing our new product that we’re incredibly excited to launch.”

Outgift is designed to help anyone find the perfect gift by using artificial intelligence and a highly curated portfolio of products.

“Our new, improved site will allow our users to connect or invite their recipients to the platform,” she said.

To comment on this story on-line, go to our website, www.hudsonreporter.com. Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com