Science of Giving

Whether you relish the thrill of the hunt or head straight for the gift cards, the holidays are just around the corner. And that means searching for the perfect gift for everyone on your list.

This year, why not sidestep the big box stores and crowded mall — and still snag a fabulous find — by consulting the Gift Professor.

Lawrence, Kan.-based baby boomer and entrepreneur Tony Schmidt loves giving great gifts, but admits he is “allergic to the holiday shopping ritual.”

Fascinated by online commerce, Schmidt decided to enlist a small team of social psychology doctoral candidates (who are now professors) to help him create a system of databases that could simplify the gift selection process. Today, Schmidt is behind the innovative Gift Professor website, which uses a highly technical, 13-filter process that can perfectly match gifts to recipients with just a few clicks of the mouse.

“We are in the relationship business,” says Schmidt, whose advanced system begins with a survey based on answers you submit regarding your recipient’s occupation, hobbies, interests and personal styles. The software program then generates a listing of unique, cool gift ideas sourced from over 2,000 online merchants — and delivers them in a Pinterest-style browsing format.

The goal is to save time, energy and stress. Plus, no two gift results pages are alike, as they are fully targeted to your special recipient, ensuring a unique selection each time.

Could this be a game-changer for gift-giving? The Gift Professor thinks so.

“This system cuts through the clutter to get to the best ideas — and does it fast,” says Schmidt. “And with no distracting advertising, dancing cartoons or spyware, the Gift Professor just offers amazing products in a single page view of recommendations that you can even store for future reference.”

Unlike shopping on other online sites, there is no need to go back and forth through a detailed system of menus, categories and merchants while constantly being tempted by thousands of competing products at myriad price points.

“Browsing is good when you’re not sure exactly what you are looking for, but if you don’t have a huge amount of time to invest in shopping, Gift Professor can help simplify the search,” says Schmidt.

In the end, Gift Professor is all about helping people craft lasting memories for loved ones.

“How many of us give a gift card or money, or just ask the person what they want for Christmas?” says Schmidt. “I think we can all do better than that.”

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photo: Mike Yoder