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Gifting startup Token is taking on a multi-billion dollar industry




  • Token, a New York-based startup that offers “gifting”
    services for businesses, is attempting to re-envision the
    corporate gifting industry by providing tasteful, hand-wrapped
  • Token founder Jonathan Jarvis says that companies
    should look at gift giving as an opportunity to build a
    relationship with their customers.

It’s no secret that the industry known as corporate
gifting — the exchange of gifts between a
business and its clients is known for producing an
array of often less than desirable gifts. Among the more
objectionable offerings are items like bottles of wine
prominently embossed with company branding, wicker baskets filled
with unappealingly packaged foods, and, of course, the dreaded

One scrappy New York startup is taking on the multi-billion
dollar corporate gifting industry by executing what may at first
seem like the impossible: selecting, wrapping, and delivering
hundreds of gifts at a time, in a way that makes each item appear
to be hand-selected by the gift-giver themself.

The company, called Token, (like a token of appreciation, not the
crypto kind of token, its founder Jonathan Jarvis is quick to
point out) is re-envisioning gift-giving through a process that
provides tasteful, hand-wrapped gifts. Inside Token’s airy,
Williamsburg office, employees write personalized notes in pen
(these are often handwritten by Jarvis himself) and stamp
individual envelopes with the company’s signature red wax

At Token’s Williamsburg headquarters, corporate gifts
are wrapped by hand.


When Jarvis first launched Token two years ago, he planned on
helping both individuals and businesses better select bespoke,
thoughtful gifts. But now, Jarvis says that the overwhelming
majority of Token’s business comes from its corporate offerings,
an aspect that he hopes to augment in upcoming years.

“When we started, we saw a lot of ‘professional gifting’
for instance, a real estate agent sending a gift
to a client, or a colleague sending a congratulations gift to
someone who had recently been promoted,” said Jarvis. “But then
we started getting more requests: entire companies that wanted to
offer a way to send out holiday gifts. That’s when we got really interested in the
idea of building a system so that we could be notified every time
a company wanted to send out a new gift.” 

hopes to appeal to “sophisticated, design-focused” clientele with
its gift offerings.


Token’s services are particularly
in demand among tech companies, says Jarvis, with both Google and
Salesforce among the startup’s bigger clients.

“Tech companies are interested in
trying out a new approach to gift-giving,” said Jarvis. “We’re
trying to bring the convenience of digital outreach to an IRL
experience. In the future, people will be able to send packages
as easily as they’d be able to send a thoughtful, personalized
text message.”

When re-thinking the gift-giving
process, Jarvis and his team decided to start from scratch. After
all, there’s plenty to be improved upon, says Jarvis.

Envelopes are sealed in red wax.
Lane Weaver/Token

“Corporate gifts are often the
worst gifts you’re given,” said Jarvis.”Think about all the money
that goes into corporate gifting, and how seldom it pleases the
recipient. It’s a missed opportunity to further the experience of
your brand, and it’s hugely inefficient.”

Notably, Token’s approach runs short on actual branding. (“Nobody
actually likes receiving branded stuff,” Jarvis points out.)
Instead, Jarvis, a former Google creative director, tailors
Token’s gifts to an audience that he describes as “sophisticated
and design-focused.” Among Token’s offerings are items like
gold-plated cheese knives, marble-topped whiskey decanters,
geometrical plant holders, and champagne truffles. 

Jarvis says that Token will only grow in upcoming years, as more
companies look for opportunities to connect with their customers
in tangible ways. 

“Giving a gift is like an act of service, as well as
a physical token,” said Jarvis. “Gifting done bad looks like
a bribe. If you approach business with a lot of generosity, you
accrue credit with people. In general, if you do that, people
will remember and repay your original gift with interest.”

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