Join Club

GiftRocker Seeks to Make Gift Certificates Easier for Local Businesses

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Giftrocker in action at House of SteepAlex Robertson was working as an IT manager when, for a charity event, he visited some local retailers to have them donate gift certificates to raise money.

One by one, he would walk in and see every restaurant, every coffee shop, every boutique had a different method for gift certificates; Some took as long as 15 minutes to provide one.

“I saw it as really ripe to be automated,” Robertson said. “The whole concept needed to be redone. I was doing software managemnt for years, and all of those experiences made me think ‘I could do better than that.'”

Two years ago, Robertson “just quit the day job and decided to do it.” He launched GiftRocker, with no outside funding, and brought in veterans of the local retail scene — head of business development Michael Scruggs in 2011 and Vice President of Sales Michael Rosen a few months ago — to try and revolutionize the way small businesses handle gift cards.

Rosen and Scruggs are gregarious sales types with connections all over the area. While Robertson is engaging when talking about his company and product, he is most comfortable building the product itself, and letting his work do the talking.

“As a technology guy, building the product, that was fun for me,” Robertson said. “It’s like a long crossword puzzle.”

GiftRocker is a tool for businesses to create customizable gift certificates, sold online, on mobile or in store. It can also be used for pre-selling event tickets and designing and creating promotions, among other services. The biggest distinguisher between GiftRocker and well-known sites that offer comparable services, like Groupon or Eventbrite, is each service is offered as an extension of the client’s brand, not GiftRocker’s.

Giftrocker coupon to Liberty Tavern“We just provide a service,” Robertson says. “Their customers are their customers.”

The GiftRocker icon is just subtly placed at the bottom of each gift certificate page, which, despite being hosted by GiftRocker.com, are designed to strongly resemble the client’s website.

The GiftRocker team has already brought its services to about 30 Arlington businesses, and approaching 100 in the greater Washington, D.C., area.

One of the businesses Robertson has partnered with is House of Steep at 3800 Lee Highway in Cherrydale. Owner Lyndsey DePalma is about to celebrate her one-year anniversary of running the store, and started offering gift cards with GiftRocker last October.

Giftrocker's Michael Scruggs, left, Alex Robertson, center and Michael Rosen

“I tried traditional gift cards and it not work out for me,” DePalma said. She was managing a spreadsheet that was getting unmanageable. Now, about 30 percent of her gift card sales occur online. “I just remember reconciling my books after the first round of online orders and saying ‘where did all this money come from?'”

Before GiftRocker, Scruggs was working for the group that owns Lyon Hall, The Liberty Tavern and Northside Social in Clarendon. Now, the three restaurants are all GiftRocker clients, coming on board after Backyard BBQ, Giftrocker’s first customer, and Lebanese Taverna, GiftRocker’s first “anchor client,” as Rosen puts it.

“The system is really a victory for consumers,” Rosen said. “There’s so much noise in the marketplace in this area. Cutting through it is very difficult, and we have a tool to do that.”

They’re still operating remotely — out of their homes in Arlington and various coffee shops — but nimbly enough to adapt to each client’s needs. GiftRocker’s next step is to expand nationally, but Robertson, Scruggs and Rosen are still deliberating over how to do it.

“When we figure it out, we’ll tell you,” Robertson said.

Recent Stories

In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.

In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.

A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.

Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 17124 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org

Submit your own Announcement here.

The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.

The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.

Former participants have this to say:

_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village

Standup Comedy Showcase Starring Matt Ruby (Comedy Central)

Dead Horse Comedy Productions brings together top comedians from the DMV and beyond for a live standup comedy show!

Matt Ruby, Headliner

Matt Ruby is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by

×

Subscribe to our mailing list