by Anne Szustek Talbot, VP of Content, BX3
Chances are that if you’re reading this with the goal of identifying actual gifts for actual entrepreneurs, you’re a procrastinator. And that’s okay! These gifts will likely benefit you, too. (As well as us, considering we ran this story on December 20.)
In any event, entrepreneurs and people in the upper echelons at startups are busy people. Busy people need to approach everything in their lives — work, shopping for gifts, streaming television consumption — with the alacrity normally reserved for 23-year-old fashion interns fetching a handcrafted-double espresso oat milk latte. Entrepreneurs don’t even have time for journalistic feature-style long-drop ledes. With this in mind and no further ado:
- A subscription box.
A veritable improvement upon the Jelly of the Month Club subscriptions of yore, the subscription boxes we’ve come to know during the 2010s take the guesswork out of shopping around for new products, leaving the monthly curation of new samples from startups — that’s right, new companies led by entrepreneurs — to the professionals, often employed by startups themselves.
“The best gift I have gotten was an Ipsy Glam Bag subscription,” says Becky Beach, entrepreneur and owner of MomBeach.com, a work-at-home resource for moms. “As a busy mom and entrepreneur, I don’t have time to shop for makeup and skin care. The box gives me a great selection of full-sized products each month. I got a skin cream this month that costs $200 in my box!”
Other subscription boxes get you feeling refreshed in other ways. Case in point: Bean Box, a Seattle-based company that ships its caffeinated wares within 24 hours after the beans are roasted. Up and at ‘em!
2. Bluetooth gear.
With the advent of laptops, smartphones, and wireless headphones, there’s no reason that founders need to be tied to their desks 24/7. So get up! Beyond it being healthy to move around at least once an hour, Bluetooth-enabled gadgets help you get work done while getting from point A to point B, whether that be en route to meet with your colleagues, go for a hike, or go on an expedition to grab another cup of coffee (see example #1). Shayne Sherman, founder of PC advisory service TechLoris, points to Bluetooth-gear as a productivity booster. “Look into Jabra or Sony for a decent but relatively affordable option,” he suggests. “They both make excellent Bluetooth earbuds and offer truly wireless if you want to go the extra mile.”
3. Analog journaling.
Connectivity gives productivity…and often saps it away. Sometimes creativity best flourishes offline. Various and sundry articles been written this year about the cult following of the bullet journal. You could join the legions of happy customers on Instagram and opt for a $20 version of a journal designed for this express purpose or you could just go très rétro and get a straight-up notebook for a fraction of the price. Michael Lowe, entrepreneur and CEO of Car Passionate, recommends a pencil alongside said pocket jotter. A leaked pen pocket is never a good look.” Agreed, and nor is a pocket protector. Although in this day and age, perhaps also charmingly retro.
4. Personalized stationery.
While we’re taking it offline, let’s take our gratitude there as well. While email has the advantage of immediacy, stationery is tactile. It’s a way to work in branding and add a special extra something to send after meeting with that potential investor. Consider putting a stamp on it and getting some bespoke stationery. Points out Emilie Dulles, owner and lead designer at custom stationer Dulles Designs, “Even if they pass on your project, taking the time to say ‘thank you’ properly, will go a long way during your next round of fundraising.” Given that she grew up in a family known for diplomacy, we’re guessing she knows a thing or two about protocol.
5. Fitness membership.
Help the entrepreneurs in your life keep in line with their goals while offline — their fitness and wellness goals. As much of their work is their life, company founders can have difficulty achieving work-life balance. Help them tip the scales toward health and get them a pass to a local boutique fitness studio. For starters, it can help clear the brain, paving the way to creativity: “I find that high-intensity exercise classes make you concentrate on the task at hand, which means your to-do list is officially banned from your brain for at least the duration of the class,” says Phil Strazzula, founder of SelectSoftware, past founder, and alumnus of longstanding venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners. Not sure if your entrepreneur is a barre or a CrossFit person? Consider ClassPass, which allows for sampling, or a fitness app. True, the latter isn’t completely offline but for the founder who just can’t turn off, at least they’ll burn off some stress waiting for that term sheet.