Follow by Email

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ellicott City business makes INC. magazine's 500 list

      Hard to believe someone sending you a gift card to a merchant you don't use or that you would have preferred cash but I suppose it happens more often than we think.  Recently I had a chance to talk with Carrie Brenner who works with marketing an Ellicott City based internet business that buys and sells gift cards that people don't want.  The business is called Gift Card Rescue  and it will buy your gift card for up to 90% of its value and either send you a check or give you an Amazon gift card.  The popularity of the merchant determines the value of the card.  Gift Card Rescue also sells gift cards at a discount so it knows what merchant cards are in demand.  Gas cards and Walmart are two of the most popular.
     This business was started by Kwame Kuadey, an Ellicott City resident, in 2007. He received national attention on Shark Tank an ABC show that matches investors with start up business.  Even though he did receive two offers from investors he ultimately decided to stay independent.  Kuadey's story is remarkable when you realize that he was born in a small town in Ghana and only came to the United States to go to college and then to work with Citi Group.  After losing his job at Citi he decided to work full time on Gift Card Rescue.  They presently operate out of a small office space near the Court House in Ellicott City but with continued expansion and hiring they may have to soon locate larger space.  Jobs with this company center around the processing of gift cards, customer services and marketing. Recently it was listed in INC magazine as having the 151st fastest growth in the country in the past 3 years.  A remarkable 2,500% increase in revenue over the past 3 years from $250,000 to over $6 million.
    Here is how it works.  You go online to their website and enter the information on the card you have and learn how much they will pay for the card.  You then send them the card and after they receive the card you will be sent your check.  You get an Amazon gift card in an email usually in a shorter timeframe.  The benefit of buying a card from them is that you get the card at a discount based on the popularity of the card.  Less popular cards get bigger discounts.  Lane Bryant cards are at a 20% discount and Walmart cards go for a 2% discount.  Many of the cards are for odd amounts which would seem to indicate they were for merchandise returns.
    To combat fraud of people selling stolen cards they red flag cards with recent purchase dates, sellers with a large number of cards to sell and cards with high values (like $5,000).    Merchandise shoplifted is often returned for store credit.  If a seller is red flagged further proof of their legitimacy maybe required.  This may include a copy of a drivers license or a receipt for the card.
     Needless to say this concept has others offering this type of service.  A Google search showed Gift Card Rescue as the fourth listed service.  Internet businesses can be some of the riskiest and short lived business out there.  Today's huge success is tomorrow's failure. Even though the business is locally housed the marketing for the business is mostly online marketing through Facebook and other social media (like blogs!).
     While the focus of the business is not local they have become involved in local efforts for the YMCA 5k Run and Downtown Ellicott City.  This is an example of how Howard County is fortunate to have talented individuals living here and growing new businesses.  Check them out if you get a card you don't want or want to save some money when making you next purchase at a wide range of merchants.

No comments: