GiftRocket combines the thoughtfulness of a gift card with the flexibility of cash.

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Announcing the API and Bulk Orders

Posted 29 August 2012 by

Over the last few months, the engineering team at GiftRocket completed a few improvements to our service.

  • Gift Card API: you can now programmatically purchase GiftRockets from your app. We’ve got a simple interface that allows you to POST to our API endpoint and make purchases on the spot. Browse the documentation and then contact us for access at
  • Gift Card Bulk Orders: rewarding people for survey work or need to send out mass GiftRockets as a thank you? Just send this spreadsheet to and we’ll take care of it stat.

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Where to Buy Gift Cards in New Jersey

Posted 06 April 2012 by

You may have noticed that it is getting harder to buy gift cards in New Jersey. Some of the biggest distributors of gift cards in the state are pulling their wares because of regulatory changes enacted by the state. Within months many New Jerseyans won’t be able to find gift cards in Walmarts, grocery stores, or convenience stores because companies like Incomm, Blackhawk, and American Express have decided not to do business there.

Fortunately, GiftRocket is still servicing New Jersey through online purchases. Visit our homepage to buy our online substitute for gift cards that give the thought of a local, personalized gift certificate, but without the restrictiveness.

Send a GiftRocket Gift Card Today

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10 Reasons Why Marketing and BD Professionals Should Learn to Code

Posted 09 January 2012 by
Thanks XKCD!

I’m the marketing and BD guy at GiftRocket. I largely handle GiftRocket’s business relationships, press efforts, marketing strategies, and so on. But I’m not your typical marketing & BD guy because I also write code.

I’m by no means a good programmer, but I know the basics and they’re incredibly helpful. [1] Knowing how to write code makes me 3-4x more efficient at my job. I get stuff done faster and provide leverage to my team.

So to you non-technical web professionals out there, whether you do SEO/SEM, affiliate, community management, blogging, PR, or business development: learn to code this year. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. Coding makes internal data gathering easier.

Suppose you want to find out who your company’s most lucrative customers are. Understanding coding makes getting information like that very easy. It’s the equivalent of knowing how to use Google, only with your company’s data instead of what’s available on the web.

2. Coding makes external data gathering much easier.

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Why your startup should never release numbers

Posted 19 December 2011 by

Paul Hontz at the Startup Foundry wrote, “When a startup leaves out numbers I assume it’s because the numbers suck and you’re trying to sound bigger then what you really are. If you’ve just started out and the only people using it are your friends and family, tell us. There is no shame in that. People love rooting for the underdog.”

I think that’s terrible advice.

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Announcing the Best Gift Baskets of 2011

Posted 14 November 2011 by

When GiftRocket originally began the contest, we had no idea the number of nominations or votes that would actually get. We let the contest run for 3 weeks now and finally closed it out.

In terms of the numbers, we received 30+ nominations, which we narrowed down to 20 candidates across 4 categories, where 1500 votes were placed total.

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YC Interview Stories and Advice from 8 Companies in YCW11

Posted 08 November 2011 by
Photo by Julia Mae

When we blogged about a YC application checklist, it was fairly easy to compile because a successful app is more dependent on people than the company. Moreover, the GiftRocket team had altogether reviewed many applications, so we had an understanding of what made some good and others not as good.

Interviews are different. We’ve only had / seen one. So we called in some favors from our friends in the YCW11 class and compiled the stories of 8 additional companies: Mailgun,, Grubwithus, Earbits, LAL, Zerocater, and Tutorspree. (edit: added Tutorspree)

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Gift Cards and PR: The Underground Guide To Press Coverage

Posted 26 October 2011 by
Photo by Mike Bailey-Gates

When we launched in March, I spent a fair amount of time getting press coverage for GiftRocket. We haven’t been the most successful startup with PR, but we did decently for not having hired any professionals. We learned a lot over the course of that time. This article describes exactly what we did to get that PR, including the one tip for coldcalling journalists that made all the difference.

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Five Startup Ideas GiftRocket Would Pay For

Posted 19 October 2011 by
Photo by Caveman Chuck Coker

We’ve had a lot of startup ideas based on the things we needed while building GiftRocket. These five came up within the last month. If you know a business that does these things, please do let us know in the comments.

1. Software that shows videos of real visitors using our website

We want to be able to visualize the way our users use our site. The end product is a screencast showing real users moving and clicking screens on our site, typing into forms, encountering validation errors, and so on. It’d be a great way to do user testing.

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Voting Open for the Best Online Gift Basket Services 2011

Posted 18 October 2011 by

In our previous post, we announced that we were accepting nominations for the best gift baskets of 2011! We’re thrilled to have received over 35 nominations in four different categories.

The 2011 Nominees

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YC Application Checklist

Posted 04 October 2011 by
Photo by Ciro Cattuto

Now that YC applications are open and people are scrambling to put together their apps, I’ve had a bunch of founders ask me for advice on getting in.

Some Math Behind YC Applications

At current growth rates, there’s a good shot YC will fund over 80 startups in W12 (the last batches were 36, 44, and 63). PG and Harj have said that acceptance rates have stayed constant between 2% and 3%. So there could be 4000 applications this round. Assuming a partner reads each application, that works out to at least 400 applications a partner. Applications are about 2000 words. So each partner reads at least 800k words of application content, or the equivalent of 10 novels. [1]

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Accepting Nominations: The Best Online Gift Basket Services

Posted 13 September 2011 by

Gift baskets are one of the most popular gifts throughout the year. People send thank you gift baskets full of wine and cheese, birthday gift baskets full of chocolate and gourmet foods, and custom gift baskets for special occasions. This October, people will be looking for rustic hand-woven gift baskets filled with candy corn and miniature pumpkins.

Who’s the best?

As e-commerce continues to grow, more and more people are buying gift baskets online. Hundreds of sites have popped up, from mom-and-pop florists expanding their operations online to big e-tailers who focus exclusively on selling on the internet.

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Infographic: The Best Bacon Dishes in the USA

Posted 06 September 2011 by

Last weekend included two of our favorite holidays. Monday was Labor Day, a celebration of everything American. Saturday was National Bacon Day, a celebration of everything bacon. So the GiftRocket team figured we’d combine the two and highlight the best bacon dishes in the USA. The infographic we created will make you proud to be American and make you salivate at the same time.

Our data set uses social media ratings to find out the most popular bacon plates in ten major US cities: New York, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Austin, San Diego, Atlanta, Boston, Philly, and Seattle.

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Does Paul Graham Get What He Asks For? [infographic]

Posted 31 August 2011 by

I first came across Paul Graham’s article, Startup Ideas We’d Like To Fund, in a Google search in mid 2010.

Though published two years earlier, I thought the article was the most thorough compilation of problem spaces for startups to tackle anywhere on the web. Before coming up with the idea for GiftRocket, we (the founders) treated it like a problem set. We’d methodically work through the list and have late night discussions about what kind of startup would be most likely to win the space PG was talking about.

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Learning to Design: How I Bombed Art Class But Still Designed A Remarkable Website

Posted 11 August 2011 by
Old app wireframes

In December 2010, I was tasked with designing GiftRocket’s original website. As a former management consultant, my only design credentials were making too many powerpoint slides and getting a C in middle school art class.

So I spent a considerable amount of time learning to design things for the web. What I ended up building for GiftRocket was generally well received, and in one isolated unexplainable incident, praiseworthy. My design wasn’t the prettiest thing, but it was usable and intuitive.

But because of my lack of formal background in the topic, I also learned how to learn web design. In that now, I can break things down and explain how a new designer should approach the topic.

So, the time has come to document the process by which I learned to design, along with the resources I found most helpful. This post is really intended as an article to my former self, as an instructional on how to approach the topic. Here’s the three step process I would advise my former self to follow:

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Six Key Lessons from a Design Legend (a before-and-after)

Posted 07 August 2011 by
Color comparison

When we first built GiftRocket 1.0, our team was absent designers. As the only one without a CS degree, I ended up spending a few weeks reading design books and mocking up the site before our March launch.

Eventually we recruited a professional designer named Mike Kus to help us out. We liked his emphasis on large text, illustration, and simplicity. He redesigned our site and we released the results last week.

I did a quick comparison of the before and after, and wanted to point out some things any developer can do to improve the feel of their site. Note that this isn’t so much about usability as it is about aesthetics and emotional design. Here are the tips:

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Don't Burn Bridges: A 4-Step Guide to Networking in Silicon Valley

Posted 02 August 2011 by
Burning bridges is a bad idea
Don't burn bridges! Photo by

Networking in Silicon Valley should be the easiest thing in the world. The Valley thrives on a free exchange of new ideas, so people always want to meet other people who might have interesting ideas or connections. As a result, people I hardly know introduce me to people they hardly know. Sometimes I get cold-emailed.

On general principle, and since the numbers aren’t currently overwhelming, I’ll take any introduction that comes my way. Most of the time, I’ll go out of my way to help those people out. Most founders, YCombinator or not, would do the same.

However, about half of people I’m introduced to do something that makes me not want to help them out. I’ve been through enough of these intro cycles now that I’ve started to discern four distinct patterns. Here’s what they are, and how to avoid them:

1. Flaking on meetings

Last week, a kind-of acquaintance asked me for some advice on his fledgling startup, and wanted to see if I’d meet with him to discuss. I offered to have lunch with him the following week. That was the last I heard from him.

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Announcing the GiftRocket redesign

Posted 01 August 2011 by
Why GiftRocket page

Giving a gift should feel great.

That was the basic direction we gave our designer, Mike Kus. Mike is a versatile and brilliant designer based in the United Kingdom. He took our general direction and, along with our existing content and flows, created the new GiftRocket site.

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GIVEAWAY: Guess When the iPhone 5 is Announced, Win $200 to the Apple Store

Posted 28 July 2011 by
Apple Store with massive line
Photo by Rob DiCaterino

The iPhone 5’s announcement is probably the most talked about tech event of the year. Speculation about when and what the iPhone 5 release will bring reached a fever pitch after Apple broke their historical release pattern by not releasing a new phone in June.

The questions stream in: will it have NFC? Support 4G? Be available on networks other than AT&T/Verizon? Have a larger screen? Do away with the home button? Have a design modeled off of the Macbook Air? Most people seem to think the iPhone 5 will be announced and presented between the last week of August and the middle of September, though there is of course no word from the always-secretive team at Apple.

Announcing the GiftRocket iPhone Release Contest

GiftRocket will be reaching out to some of our favorite tech bloggers to gather their predictions. What do you think the actual release date for the iPhone 5 (or 4S, if Apple calls it that) will be?

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Top Six Gift Ideas for Matthew Berry Fans

Posted 13 July 2011 by

Matthew Berry, aka the Talented Mr. Roto, is perhaps the best known expert in the fantasy baseball universe. From his humble beginnings as a production assistant on The George Carlin Show, Berry is now the Director of Fantasy Sports for ESPN – which might just be the most amazing job title, ever. In addition to being a major source of inspiration for my own (currently in second place) ESPN fantasy baseball team, he and Nate Ravitz provide an entertaining wealth of information every weekday on their fantasy baseball podcast. From Pod Vader to Anne Hathaway, Matthew Berry inspires a host of gift ideas – and here we give you the best ones.

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The Top 5 Comicon Gifts (hint: #3 is buying Nathan Fillion 900,000 Twitter followers)

Posted 08 July 2011 by
Photo courtesy of RavenU

Comicon, cherished as the world’s biggest celebration of all that is nerd, is finally here. Even though it has lost its underground street cred with references in Entourage and Kevin Smith flicks, it’s still going to be frickin’ awesome. So you know someone who is going. We do too, and we like gifts. Here are the top 5 gifts for the Comicon goer:

5. A Stormtrooper Costume

There’s going to be at least 1 awesome costume party this year. Get him something better than a regular stormtrooper costume: this one goes for $670 online and ought to make them stand out.

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Restaurant Gift Card Market Bigger Than NASA Space Exploration Budget

Posted 07 July 2011 by
Photo courtesy of Paul Williams

The restaurant gift card market is probably bigger than $5B dollars a year. According to the National Restaurant Association, 2011 total restaurant spending is forecast to total $604 billion, roughly 6% of aggregate U.S. consumer spending. We conservatively estimate, using this proportion, that the size of the restaurant gift card industry is at or over $4.8 billion per year.

What $5B means

Looking at this data from the restaurant owner’s perspective is even more striking. According to the NPD Group, there were approximately 580,000 restaurants in the U.S. at the start of 2011. The $4.8 billion estimated restaurant gift card industry works out to $8,275 in average gift card income every year at the nation’s restaurants. Compare that to NASA’s $3.7B Space Exploration budget. While restaurant gift card spending is not likely to be evenly distributed across all restaurants, it is a safe assumption that gift card programs play an important role at most of them.

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Baseball Stadium Food

Posted 23 June 2011 by
Photo courtesy of Bakers love

Summer officially began this week. In addition to the long days, great weather, beach outings, and barbeques, baseball games are a quintessential part of the American summer experience. Every one of major league baseball’s 30 stadiums offers a unique experience that reflects the cities and the teams the stadiums represent. Here are our top 8.

1. Fenway Park

Fenway Park is the oldest professional baseball stadium still in use today. Home to the Red Sox since 1912, a trip to Fenway is a crucial baseball experience for any fan, even if you root for Sox’s arch rival New York Yankees. The focal food here is of course the Fenway Frank, the all-beef hot dog made famous by the Park.

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Give the gift of a Napa Valley wine tasting

Posted 15 June 2011 by
Photo courtesy of Sullivan Wine

“Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” -Benjamin Franklin

Out of all of the trips I’ve been on, none has satisfied as consistently and completely as going wine tasting in California’s Napa Valley. There is something magical about tasting wine in the same place where the grapes were grown, harvested, and fermented into the good stuff. Since I’ve been there a few times, friends and family often turn to me for suggestions on where to go. Below is a perfect itinerary for a great Napa wine tasting day trip. I only included 3 actual vineyards so you don’t have to worry about finding a designated driver and you can have a relaxed experience at each one. Vineyards don’t generally offer gift cards, so use GiftRocket to give a gift to any of these great experiences!

11:00am: Sullivan Vineyards

Start your trip by driving up route 29, past Napa, Yountville, and Oakville until you reach Sullivan Vineyards, located on Galleron Road in Rutherford. The Rutherford appellation is excellent for growing hearty cabernet sauvignon grapes, and Sullivan Vineyards bears this out. Sullivan has one of the most intimate, calm, and friendly tasting experiences of any vineyard I’ve been to. Make an appointment and allow yourself at least an hour and a half. If it is nice out, they will do tastings in a beautiful courtyard between the tasting room / barrel warehouse and the family’s house. The owner’s dog, Apollo, usually greets guests at their cars and is a great tasting companion.

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A Top 5 List for Father's Day Gifts

Posted 06 June 2011 by

I’ve never been unprepared for Mother’s Day, but Father’s Day seems to creep up on me every year. The Onion got it right with this one.

But for a father, this sneaky June holiday is a perfect excuse to celebrate being the man of the house. My dad treats it as the one day he has total immunity to do what he wants. For the past couple of years, I have taken the approach of egging him on and choosing a gift that makes sure he’ll have one of the best days of his life. Here are some of my best ideas from the past few years - pick one up for your Dad by June 19!

An afternoon at the cigar shop

Photo by Elliot P

My mother always looked disapprovingly at my dad when he lit up a cigar on a special occasion. He claimed that it was “only for the taste” and that he never inhaled, but she was unappeased. That was enough to get him to stop for the most part - but if there is ever a day when it would be appropriate to unwrap a nice robusto, Churchill, or presidente, Father’s Day is it. This year, pick him up some delicious cigars from your favorite Latin American country at a fine tobacconist, such as Grant’s in downtown San Francisco.

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First post

Posted 25 May 2011 by

Welcome to our blog! In this space we plan to feature gift ideas, talk about trends in gift giving, and explore ways to make gift giving easier for the sender and more enjoyable for the recipient. For example, in the next few days we will be posting about some great Father’s Day gift ideas. If you have any ideas or requests for stuff you’d like to see on this blog, feel free to email us at

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