5 questions with Elfster CEO Peter Imburg
Santa’s helpers aren’t the only ones busy this time of year. Peter Imburg, CEO of Elfster, founded the high-tech Secret Santa gift exchange hub in 2003. The site works partially like a social network and partially like a personal shopper to help create a top-secret way to exchange names but also create public wish lists so there is no confusion when it comes time to gift. The site continues to evolve and push for growth. We talked with Peter, a Vistage member since 2013, about the challenges he’s faced in creating Elfster, where he sees the company heading in 2016, and why Vistage has been so vital to the brand’s success.
1. What’s surprised you the most about Elfster (and being in charge)?
The thing that has surprised me most about Elfster is how it has grown and evolved over time. Being in charge of Elfster during this period of growth has meant gradually, to use one of my favorite Vistage sayings, working more “on my business” and less “in my business.” This has entailed turning over responsibilities to highly capable team members while pushing myself to be a more effective leader, holding up a compelling vision for the future of our company. I have been so pleased to see the rewards for putting my faith in the team as they step up and deliver fantastic results beyond my expectations.
2. Why is it so important for Elfster to participate in drives like Toys for Tots?
At Elfster our mission is to promote generosity. Giving back is a fundamental part of generosity, being a part of your broader community. The Marine’s Toys for Tots Foundation is an incredible organization that we are proud and honored to support. Toys for Tots brings our country together to reach as many less fortunate youth across the country as possible. I am amazed by the impact made by them and we are contributing all the resources we can to help with their mission.
3. Why join Vistage?
I would urge business owners and CEOs to join Vistage in order to routinely stretch their understanding of what they can do with their organization. You will learn to become a more effective leader while also helping a community of peers who are on a similar path. I look forward to our monthly Vistage meetings as an opportunity to reflect, learn, and grow: both personally and professionally.
4. What do you get out of your Vistage experience?
Our group Chair, Hal Brody, is an excellent coach and facilitator. I look forward to our one-to-one meetings each month as a chance to discuss important issues around Elfster, to be held accountable on my past commitments, and to explore opportunities. I love the speakers that come through our meetings regularly and am particularly fond of how an intimate group is able to get close access to such high caliber individuals. Finally, I appreciate the collaborative environment of working through issues with a community of peers.
5. What’s the future of the site/company? What are your expectations for 2016?
We always drive for some basics: increasing the customer happiness, increasing the team happiness, and spreading the word. Growth is the fountain of all these good things, and we are aiming to again accelerate our growth rate over the prior year. This will demand continued excellence and improvement in our web experience, mobile app experiences, and marketing.
In addition, in 2016 we hope to make significant strides in promoting the practice of Everyday Generosity. We will continue to develop our “Elfster at Work” and “Give Back,” targeting forward thinking employers and charitable organizations.