Swag has a long and patchy history in the world of business. For every hip pair of plaid socks, there are five t-shirts you may never wear, an itchy scarf, a notepad your kids might use, an ugly mug, and most of all, likely thousands of dollars and lots of time invested in making those presents a reality.
Now, a startup that has built a service to rethink the concept behind corporate gifts and make them more effective is today announcing a round of funding to continue expanding its business — and one sign that it may be on to something is its progress so far.
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Alyce Raised $30 Million in Funding
Alyce, a Boston company, has developed an AI platform that integrates with different other applications that could be used to communicate and monitor your interactions with other people in your work life such as business partners, sales prospects, and colleagues — and makes use of the information to tailor gift suggestions to those who are interested, is raising $30 million in the proceeds of which it will use to build out its platform, registering more users and bringing on additional staff members to join its team.
General Catalyst is managing the round, with Boston Seed Capital, Golden Ventures, Manifest, Morningside and Victress Captial -All previous backers are participating.
Alyce states that it has grown by 300 per cent throughout 2019 and 2020, taking on a large company gifting, promotional, and another item market, which ASI Market Research estimates is valued at around $24.7 billion per year. Customers today comprise Adobe’s Marketo, G2, Lenovo, Wex, Invision, DialPad, GrubHub, and 6Sense.
In addition to the many other applications and services aimed at improving productivity and management of people, Alyce explains that this year’s experience of working remotely has tested many relation and jobs. It has also led to massive outbound and inbound digital activities (the screens are where all the information is played out) and, frankly, burned many of us — has also brought it the potential for a new type of significance.
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“As everyone was bombarded with emails last year, the number of people who unsubscribed increased,” Greg Segall, Alyce’s founder and CEO Alyce, announced in an email. “When someone opts out, it’s for life. It’s evident that both customers and brands are looking for the same thing: an effective and relatable method of engaging.”
Alyce’s contribution towards more high-quality engagement is through AI-powered personalization.
Linking up with other tools that people normally utilize to keep track of their interactions with others — these comprise Marketo, Salesforce, Vidyard and Google’s calendar and email applications — the system has been designed with algorithms that analyze the data from these apps to build information regarding the preferences and preferences of the recipient who will be receiving the gift. The system then utilizes that information to create a list of gifts that may appeal to the person from the larger list it has created, which includes around 10,000 items. (They could also include traditional corporate swag items, like these mugs, socks, or mugs.) Instead of sending the actual present, “Swag Select”, as the service Alyce is known, is a gift card that allows the recipient to redeem the gift of their preference from a smaller range of products.
Alyce isn’t the actual company that holds or distributes gifts. It connects with third parties who mail gifts out. (It prices its service based on how much it’s being used and the number of additional tools a user may want to personalize and distribute gifts.)
This appears to be the very impersonal person giving the gift who isn’t personally involved in choice or gifting or gift; instead, it is “selected” via AI. It is an adaptation of the technology of personalization and recommendation, which has been developed to show ads, suggest products on e-commerce websites, and many more.
However, on the other side, it’s a fascinating solution to determining what to buy an individual, which is difficult when you know someone or even if you don’t. At the same time, helping come up with a gift that will, at the end of the day, is about being considerate of them and not the present in itself.
(You might also say that because gift lists were compiled based upon an individual’s perceptions of the recipient, there are certain personalizations here even though they’ve been processed through an algorithmic process before reaching you.)
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The ultimate goal of these presents is to convey “thank you for the working relationship that I am grateful for” or “please purchase additional printing paper for me” rather than “I’m sorry for not being nice to you over the dinner table last night.” But… If the model works as intended, perhaps there could be a chance to extend the concept to other scenarios, such as businesses looking to improve their direct-mail marketing campaigns or those who wish to redress the situation after an argument the night prior.
Not surprisingly, General Catalyst is interested in the larger gifting market, pointing out the possibility of how the service could be scalable in the future.
“At General Catalyst, we are delighted to have led the most recent round of funding for Alyce because Alyce has redefined the category of gifts with the help of technology and the power of. The ability to offer goods and experiences that make the recipient and the person giving it feel comfortable is impressive,” said Larry Bohn, Managing Director of General Catalyst, in a statement.