Why We’re Here
One of the things you think about when working at or running a company is what is it that your company does that no one else can do. This is important for two reasons, I think. First, it provides a reason for a consumer to do business with you. Second, it also provides a reason for employees to work with you.
So, to the question: Why we’re here. It’s actually pretty simple: We’re here to help people free up money trapped on their gift cards so that they can get cash, save when they shop or donate to a cause.
The gift card industry is pretty interesting, actually. And that’s something I certainly didn’t think I’d be saying a little more than a year and a half ago when I first got involved in Plastic Jungle. Tina Henson, our company Founder, had a friend who had a gift card with a large balance on it and she didn’t want to use it at the store it was for. What to do? Well, sell it to someone who wants it and create a market for people who have the same issue.
What’s unique about PJ (as we call it internally) is that we verify every transaction. So, unlike other places where you might trade gift cards online, we make sure every card is valid before it’s sold and guarantee the transaction when the card is bought. Trust is key to growing a market and we really like the growing part of running a business.
I used to work at eBay and one of the things we used to say about eBay was that we made inefficient markets efficient.Â And that is certainly what we’re doing at PJ. Every year, more than $80 Billion is spent on gift cards and they are given away about 95% of the time (I’ll explain the other 5% to you over a beer sometime.). And, not surprisingly, sometimes someone gets a gift card for a store that they’re, for whatever reason, not into very much. So, that card sits in the proverbial sock drawer and doesn’t get spent. About 8-10% of cards meet this fate every year. That adds up. For retailers, most now realize that it would be a good thing to get more users in the door spending these sock-drawer-trapped gift cards. That gets back to why we’re here: Money trapped on a gift card. Free that money through Plastic Jungle.
So far, we’ve been growing well and as people find out about us they seem to really like what we’re doing. I certainly have found that once someone understands how much money they have sitting on gift cards in their sock drawer and that they can get cash for or donate that card, that person is thinking that PJ is a good idea, too.
We’re still learning about what our users want and how to make PJ better. I don’t think that will ever stop. A great part of growing a company is just learning more every day. But we will remain focused on why we’re here: Freeing up money for the benefit of our consumers and retailers. It’s a simple idea and, from what we see so far, a great one, too.