The University of Southampton

BOON student start-up spreads the joy of Christmas giving using artificial intelligence

Published: 17 December 2018
Mike Oakley (L) and Dylan Grey (R)

Entrepreneurs from the University of Southampton have launched an intelligent gift recommendation service to inspire creative and joyful gift giving this Christmas.

Electronic Engineering graduates Dylan Grey and Mike Oakley have created BOON, a free website that uses state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and personality deduction techniques to generate tailored gift inspiration.

BOON selects gift ideas specific to users and their recipients based on responses to several questions and an online catalogue from over 100 retailers.

Co-founder Dylan explains: “We’re on a mission to help people re-discover the joy of giving this Christmas by taking the pain out of finding the perfect gift for a loved one. BOON provides inspiration unique to your needs in a matter of minutes, so you no longer have to trawl through countless gift sites getting overwhelmed with all the options.”

Dylan and Mike graduated from the School of Electronics and Computer Science this summer and have based their business in the University’s new Future Worlds Accelerator on Highfield Campus.

“When I entered my final year, I thought a lot about what I wanted to do after graduation. I decided to start my own company, but it was only after talking to Resident Mentor Ben Clark in Future Worlds that I realised I shouldn’t wait until after graduating,” Dylan says.

“Degrees are a lot of work but I was really excited about the business and devoted as much time as I could to it. And I’m pleased I did; if I hadn’t started working on BOON during my degree, I wouldn’t have got all the amazing support from Future Worlds that has been so beneficial to get the company to the stage it’s at now.”

Future Worlds helps nurture aspiring University entrepreneurs and cutting-edge technologies through one-to-one support and a network of seasoned founders, investors and millionaire entrepreneurs. BOON emerged this spring when the team first pitched the idea at an annual Dragons’ Den-style investment event. The entrepreneurs have since been accelerated on their journey through early-stage funding from the Web Science Institute’s Z21 Innovation Fund.

The pair now have a growing team and in January will be showcasing the technology at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the largest consumer technology show in the world.

The BOON gift service is available now at

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