Our co-founder and CEO Kris Rudeegraap started Sendoso based on one simple truth: people love getting gifts! That central idea drove him to create the world’s first Sending Management Platform, which leverages personalized gifting to break through today’s incessant digital noise.
But the path to success wasn’t easy, and Kris is passionate about sharing those ups and downs. There’s so much that sales and marketing teams can learn from his story to see how he revolutionized corporate gifting and ultimately, the customer experience.
Keep reading to hear Kris’ incredible journey in his quest to build Sendoso, including obstacles he faced and how he overcame them (hint: one of the challenges was a cease and desist letter from Starbucks!).
It All Started with a Handwritten Note
After working in software sales in San Francisco for 10 years, Kris found himself constantly thinking about how he could stand out from the crowd to win over customers. He was tired of competing with the constant digital noise of email blasts—so he created a more personalized approach.
He started writing and mailing handwritten notes to prospects and customers, to offer a unique touch that didn’t cost a lot or take too much effort. From there, he graduated to sending Starbucks gift cards and quirky gifts he ordered from Amazon. But it was time-consuming to track and send everything manually on his own.
And that was the moment he realized that creating a platform to physically send gifts and track data and expenses could just be the future of marketing.
The Evolution of Sendoso
After Kris’ epiphany, he and co-founder Braydan Young started a website called Coffee Sender, which used a Salesforce app to send out Starbucks gift cards to prospects and customers. They worked nights and weekends on the project until 2016, when they eventually decided to expand the concept to include all kinds of gifts, from branded swag to virtual experiences and so much more. And Sendoso was born!
“We are a sending platform that helps other companies send out direct mail, corporate gifts, swag, handwritten notes, personalized gifts, you name it, we can send it…And then we have logistics and fulfillment to actually help get these things from A to B,” says Kris.
Today, we are 250 employees strong with warehouse fulfillment centers across the world, and more than $160 million in funds raised.
“I’m constantly grateful for the success of the company and seeing this grow. I think I’m also just continuing to look forward to the future,” says Kris. “And I love interacting with our employees, our customers, our potential customers, our partners…We’re still on this long journey, and there’s no slowing down.”
Obstacles On the Way to the Top
The journey to creating the successful company you see today was a bit rocky at times, but Kris and Braydan pushed through hurdle after hurdle.
The Starbucks Debacle
The biggest challenge Kris recalls facing was the time they received a cease and desist letter from Starbucks…uh oh. At the time, they were still operating Coffee Sender, so this cease and desist from a major coffee chain seemed like the end of the world.
“I’d say every founder has a few of these moments, no matter what. If they don’t, they’re lying to you. But you have to be crazy to get past them and not think that they’re showstoppers, but that they’re just speed bumps,” Kris explains.
Kris and Braydan weren’t deterred. They hopped on a plane, flew out to Seattle, and gave their best pitch to the execs at Starbucks. Turns out, it was all a misunderstanding.
“They were like, ‘Oh, this is way cooler. We didn’t even know, we just had some lawyer on payroll that sends out cease and desists. Let’s partner up.’ And so that was a really cool moment. We could have given up then and just been like, it’s over. But we fought through it.”
Lack of Warehouse Space
Another major obstacle hit them while they were scaling their warehousing. After running out of space seemingly overnight, they had to get creative to avoid a bottleneck. They packed up a truck full of excess product to sit overnight while they found a new warehouse space over the weekend. By Monday, they’d expanded their warehouse and successfully avoided a disruption in service.
A Global Pandemic
You may think that COVID would have put a damper on a business that specializes in sending physical gifts to people’s offices—but Kris used this as another opportunity to think outside the box and stay nimble.
“We quickly pivoted with our address confirmation feature, helping send things to people’s houses instead, and we actually scaled faster through COVID.”
Companies also looked for help during the pandemic to send welcome kits to new hires or send gifts to celebrate life moments like anniversaries and birthdays to keep people feeling connected.
Gifting Ideas and Use Cases
Strategic gifting with Sendoso allows you to be as creative as you want to be to reach your target audience. A personalized gift goes a long way toward strengthening a customer relationship, booking that meeting, or closing a deal.
With Sendoso, you can send something as simple as a gift card, or as customized as golf balls to a golfer or Yankees swag to a superfan.
“I think it’s important that you can leverage a platform like us to sprinkle those things in so that again, you have the ideas, you want to do it, it’s hard to do. So let us do the hard work for you,” Kris says.
Some of Kris’ favorite gifting examples he’s seen over the years take creativity to the max. Zendesk created a campaign to send out “movie-night-in-a-box” kits, which included a Netflix gift card, popcorn, candy, and a blanket. At a time when most people were home with their families more often, it was a fantastic way to get the whole household involved rather than just targeting the individual customer.
From customized holiday calendars to March Madness swag and even a full-on gardening kit, Kris has seen it all. “Really there’s just an unlimited spectrum of what you can send,” he says.
Show Me the Money (ROI)
Wondering how to track expenses and demonstrate ROI for your corporate gifting strategy? We’ve got that covered, too.
“We have data across all different use cases, whether it’s sales or demand gen or field marketing or customer marketing…We integrate into your CRM and your marketing automation tools, so we can connect the dots for you,” says Kris.
With less time spent manually tracking and more opportunities to demonstrate proven ROI from gifting, you can focus on what’s important: the customer journey. Sendoso enables teams to build in memorable touch points across the lifecycle, streamlining the process with modern software so that it’s repeatable and proven to move the bottom line.
Recap & Resources
From his first epiphany to the early days of the company and now today, Kris has remained true to his vision to help marketing, sales, and customer experience teams break through the digital noise and build meaningful relationships with their customers.
Ready to see what the world’s first Sending Management Platform can do for you? Book a demo today. Happy sending!