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There are already too many “best tech gift ideas” articles out there to list here, but you might have noticed that there aren’t too many geared specifically for that startup worker gal or guy in your life (i.e. your boss or the person sitting next to you).

Like anyone else, startup staffers are into all kinds of gadgets. But the entrepreneurial community is naturally filled with creators — they like to make stuff, not just watch and read. So if you’re looking for that perfect technology gift for a startup employee, you’ve got to keep productivity in mind.

There are two rules to follow when searching for gifts for startup folks: it has to be ultra cool (because what’s cooler than working for a chic startup?) and it has to fit with their work (they’re trying to change the world!). Having worked for plenty of tech and startup companies myself, I tried to put together a list of the best five gifts for a startup employee. Let me know what you think!

1. Chromebook

toshiba chromebook

They’re not exactly new, but only recently have Chromebooks turned the corner from playthings to legitimate laptops, with most models sporting 2 or 4 gigs of RAM and blazing processors on SSD drives. Why are Chromebooks great for startup workers? They’re cheap (most around $150-$250), they’re almost totally maintenance free, and they’re extremely light and portable, with battery life often over 10 hours.

Chromebooks work almost exclusively in the Chrome browser and online apps, so they’ll never be a hardcore programmer’s first machine, but any work that can be accomplished online is a breeze on these and they’re great for travel for someone who might need a backup computer. Two of the most popular models are the classic Samsung 11-inch Chromebook and the multimedia-friendly Toshiba 13-inch Chromebook 2 models (with Skullcandy speakers and a gorgeous 1080p display).

2. Panasonic TCM125 earbuds

panasonic tcm125

Want $100 sound without actually paying $100 dollars? These Panasonics can be found at most retail stores for around $15, which means you could even give multiple pairs (most tech employees can attest to needing a backup set!). The Verge listed this model as the best headphones under $50 for a reason: they sound fantastic. They’re great for taking business calls (equipped with a great mic and remote) or just jamming out — requirements of any startup employee while crushing some work.

3. Google Play Music / YouTube Red subscription

youtube red subscription

Speaking of jamming out, who can stay productive over back-breaking work days without some good tunes? You can “gift” subscriptions to Google Play Music (in 1-month, 3-month and 6-month lengths for $10 a month) to anyone with an email address. Google Play Music is a full-service music subscription service just like Spotify or Apple Music, but here’s the kicker: it comes with a FREE subscription to YouTube Red — YouTube’s new ad free subscription. With YouTube Red you can watch any YouTube movie without ever again having to sit through a loud and annoying video intro advertisement — no more wasting precious seconds waiting to see Star Wars trailers and the latest viral videos. (I have it and it’s addicting; I’ll never go back.)

Plus, there are other cool features like offline downloads, perhaps for a quick TED Talk while on the road or the latest tech tutorial. There isn’t a startup worker on planet Earth who couldn’t use a YouTube break every now and then, and video ads are so 2012.

4. Rhodia Notebooks and Notepads


This one doesn’t even require electricity, so why is it on a tech gifts list? Because Rhodia paper products and notebooks are ridiculously cool. And in the startup world, well, let’s be honest, “cool” is a must. Rhodia is a French product, and its Essential Box is one of the hottest gifts of 2015. Most of the products are graph-lined, which make a great addition to the work desks of programmers and designers. And all startup workers need to look cutting-edge in their next meeting or interview with a client, and nothing says cool and creative like Rhodia’s bright orange covers.

5. Anything with a USB-C connector  


We’ve written about the new Type-C USB connector here at ExitEvent before, and the charger/data-transfer/everything cable is still poised to become the dominant cable in the computing and mobile industries, replacing everything from classic USB Type-A connectors and even the Micro-USB chargers that currently power most gadgets. Within a year or two, expect everything from laptops to phones to be using the Type-C exclusively for data transfer and charging. But why wait until it’s commonplace to own one?

There aren’t too many products sporting the connector now (new Nexus phones, Apple Macbooks, the Chromebook Pixel to name a few), but they’re out there, and isn’t the key to a good startup culture being ahead of the curve?