Swag has a long and sharp history in the business world. For every hip pair of plaid socks, there are five T-shirts you can never wear, an itchy scarf, a notepad that your kids can use, and an ugly mug; And most of all, the prospect of thousands of dollars and a lot of time to present the reality to those people. Now, a startup that has built a service to revive the concept behind corporate gifts and make them more effective today is announcing a round of funding to continue expanding its business – and a sign Is that it may be on something so far its progress.
Ellis, a Boston startup that has created an AI platform that plugs into various other apps that you can use in your working life to share and track your relationships with others – sales prospects, business partners, Colleagues – and then use the information to personalize the gift. Recommendations for those people, have raised $ 30 million, a series B that he will use to continue building his platform, signing more users and his Hiring more people for the team.
The round is being led by General Catalyst, with Boston Seed Capital, Golden Ventures, Manifest, Morningside and Victress Captial – all previous backers also participating.
Ellis says it has grown 300% year-over-year between 2019 and 2020, dealing with a corporate gifts and promotional items industry that ASI Market Research estimates is about $ 24.7 billion a year. Its customers today include Adobe’s Marketo, G2, Lenovo, Wex, Invision, DialPad, GrubHub, and 6Sense.
And, along with so many other apps and services that are aimed at productivity and people management, Alyce notes that working remotely this year – which has tested many relationships and job functions, has led to a huge shift in digital activity Flooded (the screen is where everything is now is played out), and clearly burned us a lot – it also gave a new kind of relevance.
“Since last year everyone was flooded with spam,” Ellis founder and CEO, Greg Segal, said in a statement. “When a prospect comes out, it’s forever. It’s clear that both the brand and the customer crave the same thing – a much more purposeful and trustworthy way to engage.”
Ellis’s contribution to greater quality engagement comes in the form of AI-fueled personalization. Linking with other tools commonly used by people to track their communication with people – they include Marketo, Salesforce, Vidyard, and Google’s email and calendar apps – the system is built with some algorithms Which creates some details about what is intended and tasted. The gift recipient then uses it to come up with a list of items that may appeal to a comprehensive list of the person she has compiled, containing approximately 10,000 items. These may also include more traditional corporate swag items such as those socks or mugs. Then, instead of sending an actual gift, “Swag Select”, as Alice’s service is called, sends a gift code that redeems the person from their choice of individual, more compressed-down-items.
Alyce itself does not actually hold or distribute holdings: it connects with third parties who send them out.
Yes, you could argue that a lot of it actually sounds very impersonal – the gift giver is not directly involved in selecting or sending a present, which is “selected” via AI – essentially, A variation. Personalization and recommendation technology that is built to serve ads, suggest products to you on e-commerce sites, and more.
But on the other hand, it is an interesting solution to the problem of trying to figure out how to get someone, which can be a challenge when you actually get to know someone, and even harder when you don’t. Is, while at the same time helping to make and complete a gesture, at the end of the day, is about being thoughtful about them, and not really the gift itself. (You could also argue, I think, because the list of gifts is based on a person’s comments about the recipient, in fact there are some personal touches here, even if they go through an algorithmic mill before they get you Run from.)
And, at the end of the day, the purpose of these gifts is to say “thank you”, or “please buy more printer paper than me” – not “I’m sorry for being rude to you at dinner last night.” Although … if it works this way, there may be an opportunity for the model to expand into more use cases, for example by exploring ways for brands to change their direct mail marketing campaigns There are, or yes, people who want to patch things up. After one color.
In particular, for the General Catalyst, it is indeed interested in the larger gifting class, pointing to the possibility of how this service may be extended in the future.
At General Catalyst, we are proud to lead the latest round of funding for Ellis as the company reimagines the gifting category with technology and impact. In a statement, General Catalyst Managing Director Larry Bohn said that the ability to deliver products and experiences that both the giver and the recipient feel good about is incredibly powerful.