The holidays are upon us, and if you haven’t thought what to get your colleagues, friends, and family, you are a terrible person.
Not really, but if you don’t know what to get the people in your life, Loop & Tie can help.
The Austin startup released an online gifting service that aims to fuse the thoughtfulness of a personally chosen gift with the convenience of gift cards.
“Gifting is really inefficient,” said cofounder and CEO Sara Rodell in an interview with VentureBeat. “You might have the impulse to do it, but it takes a long time to pick something out. I wanted Loop & Tie to mimic the offline experience of walking into a store with someone and telling them to ‘pick anything you like, its on me.'”
Loop & Tie features four curated collections of gifts at varying price points. Givers designate how much they want to spend and either select “Gift of Choice” — to give the recipient complete freedom — or recommend a specific item.
Recipients choose their gift and it is delivered to their door.
“This approach lowers the risk profile associated with giving a gift because it is more flexible,” Rodell said. “A giver may not know someone’s specific tastes, but can still send a gift that leaves a wonderful impression. We sell products with stories, with passion behind them. We feature really interesting things you wouldn’t know to look for, that are part of a life well lived.”
Loop & Tie’s gifts strike a balance between utility and indulgence. Most of the gifts are food-focused, including a maple wood cheese boards, wine carafes, and even grass-fed tenderloin steaks.
Before founding Loop & Tie, she spent years working in institutional equity sales for UBS. Every year around the holidays, the firm sent out gifts to their customers and clients. It was an extremely time-consuming process because every account had different requirements. For example some people didn’t drink alcohol, so a bottle of wine wasn’t make a good gift for everyone.
Loop & Tie is forming partnerships with large corporations to help them satisfy their gifting needs. Rather than worrying about unique preferences, faux pas, price, and collecting mailing addresses, a business can simply enter in their email addresses of all their clients, pick the “Gift of Choice” option, and be done.
The business-to-business angle will help distinguish Loop & Tie from rival startups that focus on individual gift-givers.
“Gifting already the way large firms do business, and we provide a better solution,” Rodell said.
Gifting startup Wantful shut down in September because it didn’t have the kind of growth to attract follow-on interest from VCs. Wantful’s website, products, and customized paper gift catalogues were beautiful, but the startup didn’t have enough customers to sustain itself.
Corporations, unlike individuals, will make large orders and potentially do it year-after-year, if they are satisfied with the results.
Competitors include GiftGiv, Wantist, and way too many gift card startups.