December 16, 2019 News Magazine

&Open helps businesses distribute gifts to reward customer loyalty

&Open is a startup with an unusual name, and one that fills an unusual niche in the business world. It has built a gift giving platform, so that businesses can reward loyalty with a small token of appreciation. The gift depends on the business and the circumstances, but it could be something like a book or a tea towel and a recipe.

Co-founder and CEO Jonathan Legge says the Dublin-based startup fits most easily in the corporate gift-giving category, but he sees the company handling much more than that. “We are more about gifting for loyalty and customer retention. We grew out of a B2C operation in which we got visibility on this market, and then quickly evolved &Open to fulfill this market,” Legge explained.

In fact, the company developed out of a business Legge had prior to launching &Open, producing high-end gifts. As part of that business, he was finding that he would get requests from CMOs of big companies like Google, Airbnb and Jameson’s to develop gifts for their events. From that, Legge saw the potential for a full-fledged business based on that idea and he launched &Open.

He sees a world in which transactions increasingly take place in the digital realm, yet consumers still crave physical interactions with businesses beyond an email or a text thanking them. That’s where &Open can help.

“We’re filling the space of helping businesses connect with their customers and showing they care, and not by kind of devaluing their own product and putting on sales. It’s more working with the customer support team, the loyalty team or the marketing team to watch the life cycle of the customer and make sure they’re being gifted at key moments in the life cycle and within their journey with a brand,” he said.

He says this definitely is not swag like you would get a conference, but something more personal that shows the brand cares about the customer. Nor is it a set of generic gifts that every &Open customer can select from. Instead it’s a catalogue it creates with each one to reflect that brand’s values.

&Open welcome screen

Image: &Open

“We will design a catalog of gifts for our clients, and then they will be grouped into subsets of situations based on price. For Airbnb, the gift set could depend on whether it’s for a host or guest, and there’s different gifts within those situations. So for a host, it will be more stuff for the home such as a recipe book, a tea towel with a recipe or a guest book,” Legge said.

The company has been around since 2017 and is already in 52 countries. To make this all work, it has developed a three-part system. In addition to building a custom catalog for each brand, it has a logistics component to distribute the gift and make sure it has been delivered, and finally a technology platform that brings these different systems together.

The way it works for most customers is that the customer service team or the social media team will see situations where they think a gift is warranted, and they will log into the &Open system and choose a gift based on whatever the circumstances are — such as an apology for bad service or a reward for loyalty.

Today, the company has 25 employees, most of whom are Dublin. The company is self-funded so far and has not sought outside investment.

Banner
Related Posts

Startups Weekly: The Peloton IPO (bull vs. bear)

June 8, 2019

June 8, 2019

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a newsletter published every Saturday that dives into the week’s noteworthy venture capital deals, funds and trends. Before I dive into this week’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the proliferation of billion-dollar companies. Before that, I noted the uptick in beverage startup rounds. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. Now, time for some quick notes on Peloton’s confirmed initial public offering. The fitness unicorn, which sells a high-tech exercise bike and affiliated subscription to original fitness content, confidentially filed to go public earlier this week. Unfortunately, there’s no S-1 to pore through yet; all I can do for now is speculate a bit about Peloton’s long-term potential. What I know: Peloton is profitable. Founder and chief executive John Foley said at one point that he expected 2018 revenues of $700 million, more tha..

Brave launches version 1.0 of its privacy-focused browser

November 13, 2019

November 13, 2019

Brave, the company co-founded by ex-Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich after his ouster from the organization in 2014, today launched version 1.0 of its browser for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. In a browser market where users are spoiled for choice, Brave is positioning itself as a fast option that preserves users’ privacy with strong default settings, as well as a crypto currency-centric private ads and payment platform that allows users to reward content creators. As the company announced last month, it now has about 8 million daily users. Its Brave Rewards program, which requires opt-in from users and publishers, currently has about 300,000 publishers on board. Most of these are users with small followings on YouTube and Twitter, but large publishers like Wikipedia, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Slate and the LA Times are also part of the ecosystem. Using this system, which not every publisher is going to like, the browser replaces the ads on a publisher’s site with its own, ..

The Dubler Studio Kit lets you use your voice to control synths, drum machines and other MIDI gear

March 12, 2019

March 12, 2019

Vochlea Music, a U.K. startup and alumni of Abbey Road Red, the music tech incubator from Abbey Road Studios, is launching a crowdfunding campaign today for “Dubler Studio Kit,” a new device and app that turns your voice into a MIDI controller for synths, drum machines, DAWs and other music gear. Described as a “vocal MIDI controller,” the Dubler Studio Kit consists of a bespoke USB microphone and a desktop application for Mac and Windows. It claims to be able to listen to you sing or beatbox and turn those sounds into MIDI notes and other MIDI control messages in real-time. Designed to be responsive enough to use live or for use in a recording studio, with a bit of practice, its makers say you’ll be able to hum a synth pattern (depending on your ability to sing in relative tune), beatbox to trigger a virtual drum kit, or manipulate effects and filters vocally. Vochlea Music demoed an early version of the technology at SXSW last year and won the festival’s pitch competition for its ..

Plaid announces strategic investment from Mastercard and Visa

September 16, 2019

September 16, 2019

When Plaid announced its $250 million Series C investment, last year, it left out a couple of key investors. Today it revealed that Mastercard and Visa had also quietly participated in the round. For a company like Plaid, which builds APIs to enable customers to access their bank accounts inside applications in a seamless way, having the blessing of two of the major credit companies in the world is a big deal. It could signal that the startup intends to move more broadly into payments, although it didn’t make any specific assertion it was doing that in the announcement. CEO and co-founder Zach Perret, writing in a blog post this morning, addressed the broad implications of having these companies on board. “We’re particularly excited about what this means for our customers and consumers. As an industry when we come together with a shared vision for an ecosystem that is open, secure and encouraging of innovation the possibilities are limitless,” he wrote. Plaid tools Plaid helps deve..

Ashton Kutcher, Ann Miura-Ko and Mamoon Hamid are coming to Disrupt!

September 4, 2019

September 4, 2019

The Disrupt Battlefield is one of the best parts of the conference. Twenty+ startups step on to the Disrupt Main Stage with a product, a pitch, and a dream. They have six minutes to convey how they’re going to fundamentally disrupt their industry, and six minutes of Q&A with world-renowned judges from the VC world. Pride. Anxiety. Despair. Glory. Anything could happen on that stage, particularly with judges that are at the top of their game and can smell bull shit from a mile away. This year, at Disrupt SF 2019, we’ll be joined by Ashton Kutcher, Ann Miura-Ko and Mamoon Hamid in the finals round of the Battlefield. And we couldn’t be more excited! This won’t be Kutcher’s first time at Disrupt. He’s hung out with us a couple times before to discuss his investment strategy for Sound Ventures, and previously, A-Grade investments. This will be his first time as a Finals Judge for the Battlefield, however, and it’ll be fascinating to see the superstar investor work in real-time on the Ma..

Period app Clue hopes to find out if you have PCOS

September 4, 2019

September 4, 2019

Clue, an app built on machine learning to track a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, has been paying close attention lately to those with irregular periods. The Berlin-based company hopes to identify what may be causing those irregular cycles and then calculate a woman’s risk of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in order to get her the help she needs from a medical provider. For those who don’t know, PCOS is a sometimes painful disease that can put a woman at risk of infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endometriosis, among other issues. The most common indicator a woman has PCOS is an unpredictable cycle, showing up whenever it wants and making it difficult to plan around. Those using the app will be able to get insight on what’s going on and why their period doesn’t always come on time using the newly launched ‘Irregular Cycles’ feature within the app. A few other apps also have a built-in irregular cycles tracking feature. One (on the nose) app called Period Tracker, ..

Terramera raises $45 million for its technology to reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture

September 5, 2019

September 5, 2019

Terramera, a Canadian company selling bio-pesticides and seed treatments to reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture, has raised $45 million in its latest round of financing. The round was led by strategic investor Ospraie Ag Science and the company’s previous backer, Seed2Growth Ventures. Led by Carl Casale, a former Monsanto executive, Ospraie Ag Science has backed several manufacturers of bio-pesticides and organic crop management products including Marrone BioInnovations and Agrospheres. Vancouver-based Terramera first came to prominence with a line of Neem-based pesticides that are sold in retailers across North America (including Target). That product targets bedbugs, mites and other household pests and funguses. The company’s latest product is Actigate, and capital from its latest round will be used to boost research and development and sales and marketing, according to a statement. “We are on the path to reduce global synthetic chemical loads in agriculture by 80% by 203..

Following a record year, Illinois startups kick off 2019 on a strong foot

January 19, 2019

January 19, 2019

Jason Rowley Contributor Jason Rowley is a venture capital and technology reporter for Crunchbase News. More posts by this contributor Following a record year, Illinois startups kick off 2019 on a strong foot Global VC market sees highest-ever concentration of supergiant dollar volume in Q4 2018 Illinois’s startup market in 2018 was very strong, and it’s not slowing down as we settle into 2019. There’s already almost $100 million in new VC funding announced, so let’s take a quick look at the state of venture in the Land of Lincoln (with a specific focus on Chicago). In the chart below, we’ve plotted venture capital deal and dollar volume for Illinois as a whole. Reported funding data in Crunchbase shows a general upward trend in dollar volume, culminating in nearly $2 billion worth of VC deals in 2018; however, deal volume has declined since peaking in 2014.1 Chicago accounts for 97 percent of the dollar volume and 90.7 percent of ..

Summer wants to vanquish student loans for borrowers, and now has $10M to do it

September 26, 2019

September 26, 2019

$1.5 trillion. That’s the amount of outstanding student loan debt held by American citizens according to the New York Fed. It is an astronomical sum, and has led to much hand-wringing about whether there is a coming bubble in U.S. higher education. What’s even worse than the scale of the debt load though is the fact that for millions of borrowers, they literally don’t have to pay some of those dollars. Thanks to the complexity of the loan system in the U.S., borrowers often qualify for repayment programs that can lead to loan forgiveness, that is, if they can figure out the terms, apply correctly, and actively follow the rules to net the write-off. Enter Summer. The public benefit corporation is on a mission to act as a “trusted advisor” to student loan borrowers. Through its platform, borrowers can get a full 360-degree view of their current student loan situation, and begin exploring options for how to repay it in the most financially efficient way possible. Summer’s program helps..

Stock trading app Robinhood revamps its newsfeed with The Wall Street Journal and ad-free videos

October 3, 2019

October 3, 2019

Robinhood may be best known its free stock trading, but today it’s rolling out a new version of the newsfeed, adding content from Reuters, Barron’s and market coverage from The Wall Street Journal, with no paywall or additional charge. In addition, Robinhood is introducing video into the newsfeed, with ad-free videos from CNN Business, Cheddar and (again) Reuters. The startup, which recently raised $323 million at a $7.6 billion valuation, has been showing more interest in content lately with the acquisition of the financial podcast and newsletter MarketSnacks — and as part of the redesign, the newsletter (now called Snacks) can be read directly in the app. “A lot of this is not even about making investment decisions,” Robinhood’s Vice President of Product Josh Elman told me. “[Some users] check Robinhood very, very often just to consume the news and understand the companies that they’re watching, the ones that they are invested in and continuing to hold.” He added that just buying..

VCs bet on Aegis AI, a startup using computer vision to detect guns

July 1, 2019

July 1, 2019

A new startup using computer vision software to turn security cameras into gun-detecting smart cameras has raised $2.2 million in venture capital funding in a round led by Bling Capital, with participation from Upside Partnership and Tensility Venture Partners. Aegis AI sells to U.S. corporations and school district its technology, which scans thousands of video feeds for brandished weapons and provides threat-detection alerts to customers within one second, for $30 per camera, per month. Coupling AI and cloud computing, Aegis integrates with existing camera hardware and video management software, requiring no on-site installation or maintenance. “We can take over the role of a security guard with much higher accuracy at a much lower cost,” Aegis co-founder and chief product officer Ben Ziomek tells TechCrunch. The financing round comes as a fresh cohort of businesses look to new technologies to protect against gun violence. AI-based gun detection is an unproven method, but investor..

India’s Udaan raises $585M to expand its B2B e-commerce platform

October 2, 2019

October 2, 2019

Udaan, a three-year-old business-to-business e-commerce platform in India, has raised more than half a billion dollars as it looks to bring more kirana stores, chemists and other small businesses online through its marketplace. The startup said today it has raised $585 million from Tencent, Altimeter, Footpath Ventures, Hillhouse, GGV Capital and Citi Ventures. Existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, which wrote its first check to the startup back in 2016, and DST Global also invested in the round. The new round valued the startup between $2.3 billion to $2.7 billion, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Co-founders of Udaan, which reached the unicorn status in the shortest period of time among Indian startups, declined to comment on the valuation. Udaan operates an eponymous B2B marketplace where it connects buyers and sellers. The platform supports a wide-range of categories from lifestyle, electronics, home and kitchen, staples and toys, to fruits and vegeta..

Real estate broker HelloOffice expands to Los Angeles after closing on $6.5 million

October 24, 2019

October 24, 2019

HelloOffice, a new real estate brokerage business out of San Francisco, has nabbed $6.5 million in new financing and is absconding down to Los Angeles to open its first regional office. The company provides software to expedite the often painful (especially in San Francisco) task of finding office space (not the Mike Judge movie, which is available to stream on Google, Amazon, iTunes and other services for $3.99). So far, HelloOffice has worked with companies like Y Combinator, Knotel, Brex, Palantir and Patreon to help them get the space they need. Now, chief executive officer Justin Bedecarre says the company is ready to tackle the Los Angeles market. “We believe LA is at an inflection point, with the biggest technology and entertainment companies in the world choosing to make LA a key hub or headquarters,” says Bedecarre. “At the same time there is a startup renaissance occurring here, building the foundation for decades of growth and opportunity.” Fueling the company’s growth ..

Struggling grocery startup Honestbee fires its CEO

May 1, 2019

May 1, 2019

The changes continue to roll at Honestbee . Fresh from pausing operations in four countries and announcing plans to lay off 10% of its staff, the Singapore-based online grocery startup has let CEO Joel Sng go, two sources with knowledge of his exit told TechCrunch. Sng, who co-founded Honestbee back in 2015 and previously served as an advisor with its investor Formation 8, cleared his desk and vacated his office yesterday, according to sources. Honestbee declined to comment. Isaac Tay, another co-founder, left the company last year while the last remaining co-founder is Jonathan Low, who leads Honestbee’s engineering team. Sng’s apparent exit comes after we reported that Honestbee had told staff that it is in the process of securing funding that it claims will provide an additional year of runway for the business. Sources who spoke to TechCrunch said it has not been announced how much that funding is, or which investor is providing it. Honestbee had held acquisition talks with Gra..

Social network for motherhood Peanut raises $5M, expands to include women trying to conceive

November 14, 2019

November 14, 2019

Peanut, an app that began its life as a match-maker for finding new mom friends but has since evolved into a social network of more than a million women, announced today it has closed on $5 million in new funding and is expanding its focus to reach women who are trying to conceive. The round was led by San Francisco and London-based VC firm Index Ventures, also backers of Dropbox, Facebook and Glossier, among others. Other Peanut investors include Sweet Capital, Greycroft, Aston Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, Female Founders Fund, Felix Capital and Partech. To date, Peanut has raised $9.8 million. The idea for Peanut arose from co-founder Michelle Kennedy’s personal understanding of how difficult it was to forge female friendships after motherhood. As the former deputy CEO at dating app Badoo and an inaugural board member at Bumble, she initially saw the potential for Peanut as a friendship-focused matching app with swipe mechanisms similar to popular dating apps. Over the past couple of..

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *