Companies often send out tacky branded gifts to clients and employees. They end up gathering dust in drawers and garages.
Ashley Wong wants to stop that.
Her rescue call is Gemnote, a Y Combinator-backed company that carefully curates corporate gifts to give them a “high quality, premium” feel. From Fitbit fitness trackers to Revol porcelain slate cheese trays, the deluxe Gemnote gifts cost between $US80 to $US175, and company officials can top it all off with a handwritten card.
Wong, who used to be Spoonrocket’s head of product, noted the success of personalisation after she sent out about a hundred cards by hand. She said the companies loved them, but her hands got tired.
“We always need to send ‘thank you’ and ‘congratulations’ cards; we know it’s necessary but we don’t want to do them,” Wong told Business Insider on Monday.
Many college students and stay-at-home mums have come on board as “freelance scribes” to personalise gifts with their handwriting. Wong is also staying tight-lipped on their salary, but she says they are “being paid very, very well.”
Gemnote started as a one-woman project, and now Wong’s working with 30 companies that have a combined market cap of $US30 billion. She says her startup is tripling its revenues every month.
How is this seemingly niche company becoming so successful?
“The crazy thing about our companies is that we’re the ‘secret weapon’ for really big companies,” Wong said. “They don’t want people to know that they’re using us. So I can’t disclose their names, but they are companies I can say you have used for sure in the past couple of days.”
Wong explained that engineers are working hard to create great online experiences, but customers never see those employees, so they may not feel the customer’s presence in the same way as a retail employee would. Getting a personalised “thank you” gift from the company can create a stronger bond and keep these employees thinking about customers. Gemnote also serves VIP customers of these companies.
Companies simply use an online portal to shoot off their requests, and then Gemnote works with their marketing team to decide what story the company wants to tell with their branding. The curating process that follows takes three weeks. From there, the gifts ship out usually within 24 hours.
Although Gemnote can be quite stealthy, its giveaway appearance is a signature black box and custom ribbon whose colours match the company’s logo or branding. Wong admits that people might start catching onto the fact that their gifts are from Gemnote.
“But at the same time, the gift inside is personal to the company, and it’s not like ‘oh, we’re just sending you junk and pre-made gifts,'” Wong said. “All the stuff is from us.”