Island student wins more than $300K for virtual gift-wrapping app

Fourth-year UPEI business student Erin O'Halloran won an award of more than $300,000 last week for her business idea, an app called Newpy.

'We found the ultimate funding for our app'

Erin O'Halloran says thanks to the prize money, she'll be able to work on the app full time. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Fourth-year UPEI business student Erin O'Halloran won an award of more than $300,000 last week for her business idea, an app called Newpy.

Newpy allows the user to virtually gift-wrap and send a photo of a gift. The person who receives the digital gift box can have the experience of unwrapping the gift in the app on their phone, or in a text or email — and then receive the actual gift.

"We're trying to bring the joy and excitement of opening gifts on social media."

A family business

O'Halloran began working on her idea a year ago. She developed a prototype app, called a minimum viable product, or mvp, and then called up her sister, Alana. Erin was glad to have family on hand.

"It was great.  It was nerve-wracking the first time I approached her because I knew she'd be honest if she didn't like the idea. But she loved it … she's a creative genius so it's been great."

The app allows users to gift-wrap photos of gifts they'll later receive. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

After entering the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation's Breakthru contest, which is open to start-ups across the country. 

Newpy made it through four cuts to make it to the gala on March 23. The O'Hallorans and one other business pitched their ideas at the gala.

Newpy was a national winner.

'The ultimate funding'

The sisters are thrilled to win because it means they will be able to work at the app full time — a real prize for new grad, Erin.

"We applied for the NBIF Breakthru competition not really knowing — we knew what it was but we didn't know what would happen and we can't believe it. We found the ultimate funding for our app."

Erin O'Halloran (second from right) and her sister Alana (second from left) won more than $300,000 for their new app. (NBIF)

The win will allow them to hire an app developer to fine tune the features and launch the app sooner than expected. Erin has three retailers for clients already.

"It means everything to us. It means we can go full time with this the prize was over $300,000 which is quite the investment for a start up it's just unbelievable. We can't believe it."