Alyce CEO Greg Segall wears a size medium shirt. He also eats healthy food, and nothing but.
So when a former customer of his sent him a logoed Patagonia sweatshirt, size large, and stuffed the pockets with Hershey’s chocolate, Segall was thankful, but less than thrilled. Worse yet, Segall was on holiday when the sugary swag arrived at his office and by the time he returned, the milk chocolate had completely melted into the seams.
“I knew I couldn’t wear it,” Segall told Business Insider in a recent interview. “It was incredibly wasteful.”
Segall’s story is an all too familiar one in the world of corporate gifting. For an act that’s meant to bring customers and sales reps closer together, Alyce’s own research found that 90% of people surveyed say if given the choice, they’d swap out the corporate gifts they’ve been given for something more suited to their interests. Without that choice, massive amounts of branded swag, holiday gifts, and even, sporting event tickets are wasted — either thrown out or never used. And in the corporate gifting market, which accounts for over $120 billion annually, that waste can add up fast.
That’s why with Alyce, which was founded in 2015, CEO Greg Segall seeks to change how businesses offer gifts to their customers in the hopes of cutting down on waste and creating a more effective tool for sales teams.
Using what the company says is “publicly available information,” Alyce is able to understand people’s general interests, like whether they have a dog or follow the NBA. Based on that information, Alyce generates gift ideas from its marketplace of products that sales reps can then send to prospective clients.
Once a recipient receives the gift options, which first come by email,, they can choose whether or not to keep one of the pre-selected gifts, browse the marketplace for another one of lesser or equal, or donate the equivalent amount of money instead to a charity of their choice.
Alyce’s gifting experience is meant to be a more personal one, and Segall tells us that the higher-touch approach is working. The chief exec says that several of its customers are reporting better sales conversion rates using Alyce, compared to lower-touch engagement channels, like email marketing campaigns.
Segall also tells us the product is incredibly viral inside of an organization. Once one salesperson announces that they closed a deal because of a gift sent on Alyce, their peers are quick to hop on-board, he says.
Alyce, like most cloud software companies, charges businesses based on their volume of usage. The more gifts sent via email, the more a company will be charged. Alyce also takes a commission from the brands that are listed on its marketplace when one of their products is sold, or, chosen as a gift.
In total, the Boston-based startup with over 100 employees has raised almost $17 million from venture capitalists like Alumni Venture Group and General Catalyst. Most recently, Alyce raised a Series A round in June totaling $11.5 million led by Manifest Investment Partners.
“When you look at the gifting space, the problem is that everyone just thinks that this is another [sales] channel to spam people, to automate,” Segall said. “We are not about automation. It’s about how do we totally, fundamentally change the way that people are building relationships within organizations.”