Meet Valentin Hinov, Founder and CEO at Group Card & Gift Collection Company: Thankbox

Thankbox is an online group card and cash collection service – a way for lots of people to celebrate one lucky person. It’s a perfect way for remote teams and families to celebrate occasions such as retirements, new jobs, birthdays, weddings and every kind of personal milestone. It’s been an invaluable tool for teams to maintain a sense of camaraderie when working remotely.

We’re proud to be used regularly by Fortune 500 companies to help keep employee morale up during difficult times. Many of our customers are also families or groups of friends who use Thankbox to mark important life events like a new baby or engagements.

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Living in the UK, I witnessed the huge office celebration culture. During my career, I’ve worked in many different teams and each of them would celebrate occasions by getting a paper card for everyone to sign. While the end result was nice and the recipient was happy, the whole process was always a hassle. The card would usually be bought last minute by the person’s manager, and they’d have to chase people to discreetly sign it.

Then some people who were working from home wouldn’t be able to contribute to the card at all. If there was an envelope cash collection, people would have to run to the ATM to get cash out to include as no one uses it anymore.

In November 2019, during another one of these occasions, I thought to myself “there must be a better way to do this, online”. I did some research and found that there was really nothing that covered both aspects of this – both the message and cash collection. That’s when a lightbulb turned on – this is something I can do!

What really gave me a push to do it though was when March 2020 happened. Everyone was going to work remotely. I thought to myself “This is the perfect time to do Thankbox”. “If there ever was a time to do it, it’s now”. “Nobody can do the paper card thing anymore; companies will need a way to do this”. I kicked my efforts into high gear and the first version of Thankbox went live 2 months later in May 2020.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

As soon as Thankbox was launched and I started promoting it to my network it found traction immediately. For the first few months, Thankbox was mostly used by companies in Edinburgh that found out about it through myself or from others who knew me. This was really great because these were all users I could ask for honest feedback – who wanted to see me succeed. They were keen to point out bugs or obvious missing features. It really helped me polish up the product over the summer.

In those first few months, I also noticed the network effects kicking in. I’d notice someone would get a Thankbox when they left their company, and then suggest it as the group card tool to use in their new place of work.

What I mainly focused on during the first 6 months after launch was product and channel fit – I needed a channel that would steadily bring in new customers. In October 2020 my small team and I decided to completely overhaul and simplify our landing page and create an explainer video. Then we started running Adword campaigns. That’s when things started really taking off. It launched Thankbox on a growth curve that’s still climbing. We ended October 2020 with £150 in revenue. Almost a year later, in September 2021 we made £12,000.

Considering Thankbox is a fully bootstrapped product with a relatively small marketing budget it’s something I am immensely proud of.

What can we hope to see from Thankbox in the future?

Over this last year, we focused on listening to our users and adding new features they were asking us for. We added features such as custom backgrounds & fonts, card scheduling, video support for messages and a premium mode for customers who want their Thankbox to look extra awesome.

As a solo founder, I still handle all of the customer support so I am very tuned in to what our customers want to see in Thankbox. One of the major asks from our most regular customers has been the option to prepay for cards in bulk. This feature, which we’ve called Thankbox Packs, is now in early testing.

I am still working on my plan for 2022 but one thing that excites me is branching into physical products. Many Thankbox recipients would like to have a physical keepsake of their digital card and I would like to be able to offer it to them.