When Sara Rodell worked in sales at UBS investment bank, she volunteered to be in charge of the finance company's holiday gifts, which it sent to clients and other important business contacts.
"I couldn't believe the amount of money we were spending on items that weren't going to leave a nice impression," she said, with food or a bottle of wine being a common choice.
"I wanted to create a process that allowed for people to get something that was relevant to them," Rodell said. So she started her own gift-giving company called Loop & Tie, moved her operations to Austin, and was eventually which was accepted into the Austin Technology Incubator.
WHAT THEY DO: Originally called Next One's On Me, Loop & Tie features curated collections of gifts at various price points. Gifts can be anything from gourmet olive oil to higher-end luxuries such as a bicycle.
HOW THEY DO IT: The gift giver - whether it's a company or person - selects a price range from $25 to $500. The gift recipient then gets an email that allows them to pick their own gift from a range of choices. Companies can send these gift emails in a batch, and Rodell said they can also send customized gifts.
WHO THEY ARE: Sara Rodell is the CEO. She employs a team of eight people. The company is headquartered in Austin and also has an office in New York City.
INVESTMENT: Loop & Tie has received a total of $2.5 million in outside funding, Rodell said.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Rodell said it's a challenge to stand out in the large gift-giving space. For instance, a recent Google search for corporate gift-giving doesn't include Loop & Tie at the top of the search results.
"How do we make sure we are communicating the right message to our customer?" Rodell said, adding that she's concerned with making sure customers are aware of new features.