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The 25 Best Graduation Gifts for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

For new grads, life after college can be tough. Student loan bills kick in. Maybe you’re weighing a move or buying a car–and you’re likely looking for a job. For those would-be entrepreneurs, that list grows exponentially. So, why not offer to help with a graduation present they can really use?

From coding lessons and startup-worthy tote bags, Inc. staffers offered their 25 best gift ideas for your the future founder in your life. 

1. Rocketbook Wave, $27

CREDIT: Courtesy Rocketbook

This company’s pitch was rejected on Shark Tank, but don’t let that dissuade you. The Rocketbook Wave is no ordinary notebook. It allows the most enterprising note-jotters and designers to instantly blast what they’ve written or drawn to the cloud using their smartphone. To reuse the notebook and erase old notes, pop the Rocketbook into a microwave oven and the marks will disappear.

The notebook is available in two sizes and comes with a Pilot FriXion pen, which has erasable ink that disappears with heat.

2. 125 Collection candles, $35

CREDIT: Courtesy 125 Collection

Forget light-bulb moments, try these candles on for size. The 125 Collection offers pure soy candles that are hand-poured in New York. You can purchase some with entrepreneurial mantras like: “Authenticity is magnetic,” “Hustle until your haters ask if you’re hiring,” “Be you. Do you. For you.” Some celebrities have also become fans of these candles, including Jenni ‘JWoww’ Farley, Tiffany Haddish, and Emma Myles from Orange Is the New Black.

3. Barracuda Collapsible Carry-On, $349.99

CREDIT: Courtesy Barracuda

Business trips in your future? No enterprising grad should be caught without his pitch dek–made even more impressive when viewed atop Barracuda’s collapsible carry-on, with a laptop tray. It drops down and unfolds in seconds. There’s also a 360-degree rotating halo handle, portable digital scale, and portable battery that can charge a phone or tablet up to five times.

TIMEULAR’s ZEI, Pro version: $49 for the ZEI device + $9 monthly/user fee

CREDIT: Courtesy TIMEULAR

If you ever feel frustrated about things not getting done, TIMEULAR’s  ZEI timesheet and productivity tracking device allows users document their day-to-day activities and see exactly where their time goes. The device also allows users to export data about their activities for invoicing and planning, and then optimize their workflow with the Pro-version. So, any needless, time-consuming tasks can be taken out of the equation and maximum productivity can be reached. The ZEI synchronizes in real-time and runs on Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android.

4. Frank & Oak clothing box, $25 styling fee + the cost of clothes

CREDIT: Courtesy Frank and Oak

Want to make a good impression? Yes? Good, with a Frank and Oak stylist-curated box, you’ll get functional, minimalist items you can pick and choose from. First, fill out a style survey, share your size, along with style and budget preferences. Check out your style box preview and see what’s inside the box before it ships for no additional charge. Then, you can confirm, customize, or skip the month. Once the box arrives, try the items on at home and keep what you want with free returns. Note: You pay for each item you keep, and if you choose to return everything, you’ll still be charged the $25 styling fee.

5. Nerdwax, $10

CREDIT: Courtesy Nerdwax

Serious brainstorming is in your future, naturally. For the bespectacled, there’s no reason to let your glasses slide off your nose as you hunker down. As seen on Shark Tank, this Nerdwax aims to help.

6. S’well water bottle, $25+

CREDIT: Courtesy S’well

Keep up with your get-up-and-go way of life with a stainless steel S’well water bottle. It’s sustainable, stylish, and the company supports UNICEF, (RED) and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The bottles are designed to keep drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. 

7. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss, $19.57 on Amazon

Brand new startup founders should check out the productivity guru’s recent efficiency-focused tome, Tools of Titans. The 2016 book focuses on tools, tactics, and philosophies used in high-stakes negotiations, high-risk environments and large business dealings. Ferriss calls it the ‘ultimate notebook of high-leverage tools.’

8. OSTRICHPILLOW, $99

CREDIT: Courtesy OSTRICHPILLOW

Just when you think you may be taking yourself too seriously, slip this puppy on. The Ostrichpillow envelops your head–giving you a lay-anywhere pillow and a check-your-pride-at-the-door experience all in one. Perfect for 15-minute power naps during airport layovers on your way to the next adventure.

9. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, $10.95 on Amazon

For someone feeling like post-grad life is filled with the word, “no,” this 1984 national bestseller has become a classic go-to for learning about persuasion. In its pages, Robert B. Cialdini, a professor of psychology and marketing, unpacks why people say “yes” and how to apply this understanding and use it to your advantage.

10. Thompson Sweat Proof T-Shirt, $24.99-$29.99

CREDIT: Getty Images

Feeling the pressure of life post-grad? Don’t let anyone see you sweat. As seen on Shark Tank, Thompson’s undershirts offer protection from underarm sweat, odor, marks and stains. Prep your professional styles without the perspiration. Styles come in crewneck and V-neck for men and scoop and deep V-neck for women.

Squarespace subscription, $18/month for business sites

CREDIT: Squarespace.com

Build your brand and show the world both what you’re made of and what you’ve made. The most effective and efficient way to establish your persona and share your portfolio in this digital age is by building yourself a website. Squarespace offers a user-friendly platform for creating a website tailored to your needs and style.

11. Adobe CC subscription, $52.99/month

CREDIT: Mikaela Shannon/Unsplash

A one-stop shop for creative content, from editing and producing videos, layouts and graphic design, plus editing photos. The Creative Cloud package comes with all 20+ creative desktop and mobile apps. It also includes 100GB of cloud storage, a personal portfolio website, premium fonts and social media tools.

12. Codeacademy Pro online classes, $19.99/month

CREDIT: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Tech skills are invaluable in all fields, and Codeacademy Pro provides classes in web development, programming and computer science, and data science. Users of the service have scored tech jobs with zero prior coding experience, the company says. A pro subscription enhances learning with projects, quizzes, and advisors.

13. Lynda online classes, $29.99/month for premium

CREDIT: Lynda.com

There’s more to running a business than coding. Lynda offers on-demand classes taught by industry experts in business, animation, CAD, audio/music, photography and tech development and a slew of other resume-boosting skills.

14. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas In Just Five Days by Jake Knapp with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz, $15.12 on Amazon

CREDIT: Penguin Random House

This 2016 book details the Design Sprint method to build and test a prototype in five days. The approach is the brainchild of Jake Knapp, who has worked as a design partner at Google Ventures, who has used it successfully with many startups.

15. PIVOT: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One by Jenny Blake, $7+ on Amazon

Written by motivational speaker and former Google career development program manager, Jenny Blake, this book teaches post-grads how to excel in a world where frequent career changes are the norm. The 2016 book has received much notoriety, including winning Axiom’s 2017 business book award in the career category.  

16. Dagne Dover Legend Tote, $265

CREDIT: Courtesy Dagne Dover

Elegant and practical, the Dagne Dover Legend Tote includes compartments perfectly sized for a laptop, wallet, phone, cards, lip balm and includes a detachable key leash. 

17. Allbirds sneakers, for men and women: $95

CREDIT: Courtesy Allbirds

Those wishing to look the part of a young startup founder would do well to slip into a pair of Allbirds, a shoe that has quickly become part of the Silicon Valley uniform. Allbirds are available in three styles–two more akin to loafers and the other more sneaker-like–and are made from either wool or tree fiber.

18. Passion Planner, $25 or $30

CREDIT: Courtesy Passion Planner

It can feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day. A passion planner allows you to rein all that time in and strategically plan your day out hourly, while also keeping track of your to-do lists, monthly calendar, doodles, aspirations and goals. These soft, faux leather-bound books come in multiple colors, dated or undated, and two different sizes.

19. Business Card Holder, $7.99 on Amazon

Even in the age of smartphones, business cards are essential for networking and building a personal brand. Help your new entrepreneur keep their business cards organized with this leather and stainless steel holder, available in many bright colors.

20. The Second City improv class, around $300+

CREDIT: Courtesy Second City

Improv is a useful (and fun) way for would-be entrepreneurs to hone their skills in thinking on their feet and taking risks. Those in Chicago, L.A. or Toronto can take a class with legendary improv troupe The Second City. There are also online improv class offerings for those in other locations. Prices vary by type of class and location.

21. Bean Box, $19/month with 6-month pre-pay (multiple payment plans available)

CREDIT: Courtesy Bean Box

The perfect gift for your graduating coffee connoisseur, Bean Box gives monthly packages of 4, 1.8 ounce bags of whole-bean coffee. Based in coffee capital Seattle, Bean Box picks from 30 artisan roasters from around the world.

22. MealPal, $5.59+/meal for 30 days (up to 20 meals every 30 days, can vary by location)

CREDIT: MealPal.com

Post-grads can skip one of the most cumbersome features of adulting–cooking–with this handy meal subscription service. Subscribers can pick from a litany of restaurant options and reserve their lunch the night before, available for pickup during the workday, saving time and money at busy city favorites. A dinner subscription service is available to just those living in the Big Apple.

23. Natico Decision Maker and Paperweight, $18

CREDIT: Courtesy UncommonGoods

Every commencement speaker is likely to note the importance of decision-making as grads embark on a new stage of life. Make it easier with this Decision Maker paperweight. Users can ask questions such as “Will I get that promotion?” and “Should I go home early?” and elicit answers like “tomorrow” or “sit on it” all from their desk.

24. Shark Tank seasons 1 through 9, $13.99-$19.99/season on Amazon Prime Video

CREDIT: Getty Images

There’s no better way to get in the entrepreneurial mindset (and chill out after a long day at work) than by binge watching Shark Tank. Go ahead, channel your inner Mark Cuban.

25. Subscription to Inc., $19.99/year

And we’d be remiss not to suggest picking up an inexpensive–but highly valuable–subscription to Inc. magazine. An all-access subscription provides 10 print and digital issues, full access to the mobile app, and the annual Inc. 500 issue, plus other special issues. 







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