Irish gifting platform &Open has raised $7.2 million (€5.9 million) in investment from backers including some of the biggest names in Irish tech.
First Round Capital, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that previously provided seed-stage funding for well-known companies such as Blue Apron, Roblox and Uber, co-led the "super-seed" financing with LocalGlobe, whose portfolio includes Zego, Linguimi Zencargo and Irish-founded companies Hometree, Sugru and Pointy.
Other participants include PCH founder Liam Casey, Intercom co-founder Des Traynor and Brian Caulfield, a venture partner at Draper Esprit who also formerly co-founded Exceptis Technologies and Similarity Systems. Dublin-based Tribal.vc also participated as did Andrew Robb, former chief operating officer at listed fashion retail platform FarFetch.
&Open has developed a gifting platform that makes it easier for brands to send carefully-selected gifts to customers to boost loyalty and engagement.
The company was founded in 2017 by Ciara Flood, formerly a buyer at Net-a-Porter and Brown Thomas, and Jonathan and Mark Legge, who together previously established the high-end gift and homeware venture Makers & Brothers.
It works directly with brands to curate high-quality, design-led and responsibly-sourced gifts for customers and campaigns, from beeswax candles to luxury skincare, a subscription or even a charity donation.
&Open currently delivers more than 3,500 gifts a week for clients that include Airbnb, Spotify and Peloton.
The start-up, which has been bootstrapped up until now, is to use the new financing to double headcount and further develop the platform.
&Open, which saw client revenues jump 246 per cent during the second half of 2020, said it was offered seven term sheets from investors who wanted to back the company.
"Once we got into our stride we were like we're definitely going to be able to find the money so that wasn't the issue. We wanted to find someone that we wanted to work with and First Capital fit that bill giving its experience helping companies like Uber get going," said Jonathan Legge, the company's chief executive.
Overall, the corporate gifting market is valued at about $125 billion, according to Forbes. However, Mr Legge added that it had become depersonalised.
“Gifting is as old as time but it has been dragged into a quagmire of corporate culture and spreadsheets and become hyper transactional. We’re looking to make it joyful again to send gifts and memorable for those that receive them,” he said.
Ms Flood, the company’s chief strategy officer said that clients report that customer referrals typically increase by a third after using the platform.
“We feel very confident about the business and its potential because we’re in a space that hasn’t got a standout leader yet so there is everything to play for,” she said.
“The feedback we’ve got from our clients tells us that are very much in a place where we could become the market leader,” Ms Flood added.