We live in a world where companies have to send out "gifts" to individuals. Chocolate bars. Bottles of wine. You name it. Companies are gifting it. But right now, that operation is buried in a marketing department on a spreadsheet and is mostly pretty disorganized.
A handful of startups realized it could be done better and at scale, among them Sendoso (which has raised $52.7 million) and ReachDesk ($6 million).
Joining this clan is a startup with the tortuous name of “&Open” (yes, "ampersand open," pronounced "And Open" for those of you at the back).
Suffice it to say, despite its name it’s raised $7.2 million to make it easier for brands to send gifts to customers to boost loyalty and engagement. First Round Capital and LocalGlobe led the seed round along with participation from angel investors including Andrew Robb (Farfetch), Des Traynor (Intercom) and Liam Casey (PCH). The funds will be used to scale to Europe and the U.S. Currently &Open claims to deliver more than 3,500 gifts every week.
Dublin-based &Open launched in 2017 and was founded by Ciara Flood, formerly a buyer at Net-a-Porter and part of the founding team at Mr Porter, together with her husband Jonathan Legge and her brother-in-law, Mark Legge. The brothers previously founded the high-end-gift-and-homeware venture Makers & Brothers.
&Open (please God, take me now … ) counts Airbnb, Spotify and Peloton among their customers.
Gifting can be powerful. According to one study the company cites, customers who feel emotionally connected to a brand have been shown to create a 306% higher lifetime value. Meanwhile, schemes like corporate gifts, branded merchandise, loyalty programmes and vouchers don’t work, claims &Open.
Jonathan Legge said: “Customers will choose brands who prioritize care and connection over transactional relationships. A thoughtful gift can make all the difference — both for a customer’s experience and their advocacy and loyalty to a brand.”
Hayley Barna, partner at First Round Capital, said: “Gone are the days of relying on a points-based loyalty scheme to keep your customers engaged and happy. Brands increasingly need to work harder to retain customers and &Open provides an elegant solution to this conundrum.”