Sure, you could give a nice bottle of wine or Scotch. But for the entrepreneur, geek or start-up junkie in your life (peer, colleague, family member or otherwise), consider something more relevant this year that can, even in a small way, help them professionally in 2012.
The following eleven ideas are listed in relative order of price, but I could argue the first is just as important as the last.
1. A year of Dial2Do
For $4 to $6 a month (depending on the version), you can give a personalized, direct line by which anyone can leave notes, send tweets and emails, text and more. It’s perfect for leaving messages for yourself on the go – in the car, while working out – and having them translated to text and in your inbox when you’re back at the office.
2. Waterproof notepads for the shower
If not in the car or on a run, your good ideas come in the shower and you remember very few of them. Waterproof notepads are the answer. A simple lead pencil takes notes, and they dry quickly. Buy a case of these and give them as stocking stuffers and/or gifts throughout the year.
3. A key-shaped thumb drive
I have a bunch of USB memory drives, but they’re far too easy to leave somewhere, forget, lose, etc. If that drive is on your keychain, shaped as a key with a reinforced metal casing, it’s with you all the time.
4. A month of personal assistants via TimeSvr
Think of all the short, manual, repeatable but largely online tasks you do in a given day (let alone week and month). Now imagine someone else just did them all for you. TimeSvr does that, executing an unlimited number of 15-minutes-or-less tasks for just $69 a month. Personal assistants don’t come cheaper.
Many entrepreneurs aren’t great at regular exercise and also (separately) are dashboard and metrics geeks. FitBit combines the two with a kinetic pedometer that tracks not just steps but mileage, calories burned, elevation gained and more. It’s tied to an online system that tracks everything, giving you historical data for your activity and food/drink/calorie intake.
6. Noise-cancelling headphones
Most of us have a pair already, but if it’s more than two years old you’re ready for an upgrade. The technology has improved significantly, such that new models perform far better than the Bose edition you may have used previously. These are great for airplanes but also for focusing in coffee shops, open work environments and more.
7. Executive Book Summaries
The geeks and entrepreneurs in your life want to read more, but don’t always have the time to get through a full book. At the same time, many great business books go on and on with examples and anecdotes. Interesting, but the gist can be gathered in a few-page summary. Give a subscription to a service that spits out two to three summaries of highly-relevant books on a weekly basis. Constant food for the brain that otherwise would be out of reach with a minimal investment of time.
8. The Personal MBA Library
For the entrepreneur that does read everything in sight (and makes it through an impressive, regular set of full-length books), consider buying them an MBA. Not a two-year graduate degree, but the collection of books deemed to deliver the “Good Will Hunting” equivalent.
9. Fujitsu ScanSnap
Your entrepreneur friend prefers to take paper-and-pen notes, but can’t find anything afterward. Get them organized without changing their habits thanks to the ScanSnap. After taking a page of notes, scan the page front and back and convert it into a searchable PDF – all with one click. Then save it in the cloud (ideally with something like Dropbox or box.net for local access) for future reference. An essential tool for better managing information and documents while keeping your desk and physical filing systems clean (and mobile).
10. Keurig Beverage System
Everybody I know who has this in their small office or work environment has fallen in love with it. No more coffee filters or fussing with a full pot for a quick afternoon jolt. Make leaded coffee in the morning, unleaded in the evening, tea or hot apple cider or cocoa in between. Flexible, fast, perfect.
11. A really nice blue blazer
Men and women both need this. A well-made blue blazer goes with almost anything (slacks, jeans, t-shirts) and immediately dresses up the individual for a last-minute meeting, presentation or investor visit. Invest in a good one (think Nordstrom, not Men’s Wearhouse) and it’ll last for years.
Editor’s note: GeekWire columnist Monica Guzman is working on her own very special list of geeky gifts from the Seattle tech community. If you’ve got an idea for the list developed by a Seattle startup or entrepreneur, please email her today at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy holidays!!