Bristol’s tech and health innovation hub Future Space has supported resident business Koan in its new venture Gift Up! – the simplest and cheapest way for retailers to sell gift cards online.Koan, which creates bespoke e-commerce platforms for online retail businesses, has created a platform to purchase gift cards which retailers can use on their own websites to quickly and easily set up gift card purchases or sales.

Lee Tracey, founder of Koan and Gift Up!, said: “In the lead up to Christmas many small companies are interested in selling gift cards but don’t know how to do it, we can offer the solution.”

“We believe we’ve got the best product out there for the ‘giftable’ sector, which can include any business from spas and restaurants to pottery and flight schools.

“As a small business ourselves, we want to support other SMEs and startups. Our aim is to be inclusive and accessible to all sizes of businesses.”

Koan developed Gift Up! over a 18 month period and officially launched in June 2017 with two customers. There is now over 3000 businesses using and benefiting from GiftUp! ahead of the festive period.

Nuala Foley, innovation director at Future Space, said: “Start-up and SME owners like Koan are fantastic at what they do but they don’t know all the answers when it comes to running and developing a business. Being able to have instant communication with the business experts based on site at Future Space is a massive benefit to them.”

Lee said: “Simply being able to pop our heads into Nuala’s office and check an idea has been invaluable.

“If you speak to anyone who runs a start-up, they’ll tell you that rigidly planning your days is a waste of time, so the informality and fluidity of the support we get at Future Space is ideal for us.”

Future Space is based at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus and has close links with the university with access to its facilities and its academic personnel – who regularly share expertise with the Future Space residents.

Over the summer, Koan took on an intern from UWE Bristol for ten weeks. The fully funded programme brings mutual benefits to both the students and the companies involved.

Lee Tracey said: “As we’re such a small company we couldn’t afford to have taken on an intern. The fully funded programme is a huge benefit to being based at Future Space.”

“As a growing business we need all the help we can get, and our intern Alberto González made big impact for us as an employer, especially when developing GiftUp!

“Alberto looked at the Gift Up! website and gave unbiased, fresh feedback on its usability which was incredibly useful for us and we made changes as a result, demonstrating the value of Future Space’s links with UWE and its students.”