Behind this great entrepreneur is an even greater family.
“From childhood throughout my years as a wife and mother, family has played an essential role in the pursuit of passion,” said businesswoman, wife and mother Kristi Hawley Taylor.
And that pursuit recently led to a new discovery. After 17 years as a successful real estate developer, Taylor discovered her budding passion for technology development. A few years ago, her real estate experience introduced her to innovation through Progress Corporate Park in Alachua, Florida, a leading technology and research park.
A downturn in the real estate market offered the perfect opportunity to put real estate on the back burner, allowing Taylor to reinvent herself through technology development.
“What most people saw as a tragedy, I chose to see as an opportunity,” the self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur said. “A few of years ago, I was doing some pre-holiday shopping, trying to buy gifts for family members while trying to help my kids create their own holiday wish lists. Struggling with the pen and paper method of making lists and not knowing what to get everyone, I was overwhelmed. My search for a digital solution came up empty, so I set out to create one. ”
With her family’s continued support, MonkeyWish.com and the mobile app were launched in May 2012 to create a solution that unites wishing and giving. The free and easy-to-use digital gift registry provides a way for members to create a wish list for any occasion by adding any item from any store.
“Our goal at MonkeyWish is to eliminate the daunting question of, ‘What to give?’ and the mindless exchange of gift cards,” Kristi explained. “We hope to make giving fun.”
The spirit behind the creation of MonkeyWish has always been more about giving than receiving. In that spirit, Taylor said she is proud to pledge a percentage of all proceeds to benefit the Tim Tebow Foundation, which shares the same core values as the Taylor family—Tebow created the foundation “to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”
The process of bringing a mobile application to market was complex. After establishing her own mobile development strategy, Taylor founded T5 Tech, a mobile development company.
“I wanted to use my expertise and create a place to help other visionaries foster their ideas,” she said.
While MonkeyWish keeps the staff at T5 Tech busy, it has already built several apps to help revolutionary local businesses, like Tomlinson Motor Company, Darr-Schackow Insurance, Team Dynamo, and Gator Stompin’, grow their customer base.
Taylor said she is proud to nurture this new generation product from within the UF Innovation Hub, a unique, all-inclusive business incubator. Her husband, Eric, just recently put his real estate career on hold to provide assistance and direction for the start-up company, serving as the CFO.
“Kristi is passionate about the market need for a product like MonkeyWish,” Eric said. “This is her baby, and I’m excited to be here to assist in making her vision a successful reality. I am so proud of her and want this journey to be all about Kristi and her success.”
Her father, Philip Hawley, who has developed real estate in the Gainesville area since 1972, is always delighted to offer advice for her new business.
“It is truly exciting to see my daughter and her family working on such a thrilling idea that benefits people all over the world,” he said. “She is certainly pioneering new territory as a woman in tech development.”
Hawley said Kristi grew up in a home where she was taught that anything could be attained by believing in herself, while having integrity and a good work ethic. And while he is one her greatest fans, he is not alone.
“I always like to help my mom by using the app and testing it at stores where I can scan anything and add it to my wish list,” said Dylan, her 12-year-old son. “I’m constantly using my phone and visiting the app store, so it’s very cool to know that my mom actually made MonkeyWish and other apps.”
Naming the app was a family affair and was derived from their youngest daughter who they affectionately refer to as their little “monkey.”
“We all wanted the name to have ‘wish’ in it, and we all wanted the name to include an animal,” Dylan added. “We searched for a while and many names were already taken, so as soon as we realized MonkeyWish.com was available, my parents took it. My sisters and I love the name— it’s fun and easy to remember; it’s perfect.”
From the immeasurable guidance of other local tech companies to the orange and blue colors of the logo, Taylor said Gainesville is, and will remain, an integral part of MonkeyWish’s success.
“As a Gainesville native, I am very proud to raise my family and business here, and look forward to giving back in our local community,” Kristi says.
MonkeyWish is a free service and can be accessed by downloading the app from the Android or iTunes app store, or by visiting the website at www.MonkeyWish.com.