Where Social Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Meet

Gift-Giving Shouldn’t Suck

February 23rd, 2010 · 7 Comments · Personal, VC, guest blog, tech

Today, I am proud to introduce to you SocentVC’s first guest blogger, Brian, who is in the initial stages of founding a start-up focused on bringing innovation to the process of gift-giving. Brian and I are friends from college, and we first began discussing potential start-up ideas in connection with conversations about the Wharton Alumni Business Plan Competition. Specifically, Brian believes gift-giving shouldn’t suck, and he’s here to tell you more.

Let’s face it, finding gifts for your loved ones can range from fun and simple to full out panic mode.  Today, I’m going to explore why the process can be so frustrating, and maybe, just maybe, a way to ease the pain a little bit.

Gift giving is both time consuming and potentially complex for many reasons.  A few of them:

The Growing Stream
There are multiple occasions that call for giving (and receiving) gifts: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, housewarmings, weddings, etc.  One can almost imagine a constant stream of events that call for giving a gift.  As time passes, we create new relationships and thus the stream grows larger. Each new person in our lives also brings more potential reasons to give and calls for more time spent on finding gifts for everyone.

One Upping Ourselves
Chances are you’ve probably given a gift to the same person more than once in your life if he or she is close to you.  That gift history can sometimes lead to the need to one up yourself the next time around.  Guys with girlfriends, you know what I’m talking about.  One upping yourself doesn’t even have to mean constantly increasing the money spent on a gift – it can also mean the need to find increasingly thoughtful and relevant items.  The problem with close relationships is that you start to run out of ideas because you were super creative the last few times already!

You Don’t Know Enough
Sometimes, you simply don’t know the person well enough to make an informed decision.  You might not know what that person is interested in.  If you’re getting a jazz lover something, you might not know enough about the subject to choose something they’ll actually like.  Or perhaps you just don’t know if that person has a particular item or not.

These are just a few of the many reasons finding gifts can make you want to tear your hair out.  There are ways to make the process easier like using gift recommendation sites, browsing top seller lists, sneaking into the recipient’s room at night for inspiration (that last one was a joke).  But often times, these tactics are pretty mediocre solutions.

Now What?
I believe there’s a better way and fortunately, my partner and I are already building a solution.  We think it will make the gift giving process far easier and will result in people giving much cooler, more thoughtful, and more relevant gifts to their loved ones.

In order to make this solution the best it can be, we need your thoughts.  We want to know what your gift purchasing process is like and what drives you crazy about it.  Tell us whatever you think at this super quick, 5 minute survey.

I promise it will only take 5 minutes max!  And if you get your friends to fill it out, Mark has promised to sing you a song with his acoustic guitar, without a shirt on.  Thanks Mark!

Edit: What Brian means is that he will sing you a song with his electric guitar, without a shirt on. Thanks Brian!

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  • Alison Chen

    haha, i whole-heartedly agree with the reasons of why finding the right gifts can be so difficult. my close friends just settled on not exchanging gifts anymore

  • http://gabriellephant.blogspot.com/ g.


  • http://www.socentvc.com/ Mark Chou

    Well, if you hope to have a tool to make gift-shopping easier down the line, fill out the quick survey and let Brian know your thoughts! https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&...

  • Phuong

    i'm curious, is this going to driven by a bunch of algorithms like hunch.com?

  • Pingback: Eureka Moments: Realizing How to Meet a Need | SocentVC

  • http://twitter.com/brianmwang Brian Wang

    Hi Phuong,

    Yes, it will be algorithm driven. One of the major value propositions that companies like Pandora, Hunch, Amazon, and NetFlix provide is relevant recommendations. They are all based on algorithms meant to accurately predict good matches (by good, I mean relevant and appropriate) for the end-user. They aren't always perfect, but they are infinitely more useful than the generic, hand-picked lists you find on most gift recommendation sites.

    We won't be completely relying on algorithms though… so stay tuned!

  • Kevin

    This calls for a duet.