We are driven by the passion for digging deep and bringing out the gems of London! It is so inspiring to explore startups and find out about the creative brains behind them. In this episode of Startups of London, we will be visiting WeGift. They’re the world’s leading platform for real-time on-demand digital incentives, payouts and rewards. We are with Adam Hobbs, the Vice President of the Global Supply of WeGift, for the interview. In this episode, we will discuss;
- the success story of WeGift,
- the values they believe in,
- the challenges they overcame,
- their future goals, milestones and more.
The future of digital rewards
Historically, payment systems and platforms used by business were only set up for the customers to pay to business, not the other way around. So when a business needs to transfer a value (in the form of vouchers, gift cards etc.) to the customers, the whole process runs with a lot of friction.
This is where WeGift comes in. WeGift’s purpose is to enable value to flow further, faster and more freely. Whether you’re looking to reward employees, incentivise new members or drive customer acquisition, it enables you to send eGift Cards to your target audience in lightning-fast speed. They are reinventing the “branded currency” category and creating a world where everyone has access to the global economy with no banks, borders or boundaries.
Their cloud-based platform offers an open API to enable businesses to automate sending digital rewards, on-demand and in real-time. It takes away all of the barriers and boundaries that are in today’s market of global payments, localized payments and actually giving the ability to corporations and their B2B partners to transfer value and reward by an easy and frictionless method.
The idea behind the innovation
A startup creates value by solving a problem through the unique use of new or existing technologies. Its sole aim does not necessarily have to be maximizing profit. But it does have to make sense commercially to its founders and investors.
In WeGift’s case, it started with a refund problem Aron Alexander – the founder of WeGift- came across in 2011. The refund was issued in the form of a paper voucher. He had to wait about 10 days for the voucher to come through the post. Also, it was a really small amount that he was never able to spend. Then he thought about the problem. Eventually, came to the conclusion that there can be a better way to do refunds or give value back to a consumer.
Disrupting the market with a new technology
We are living in a rapidly changing world, especially for businesses. Learning how these changes shape the marketplace over the long term can provide insights into how future trends may occur. And what you need to do in order to achieve success is adopting to those changes and developing solutions to sweep away the possible negative effects.
In the case of WeGift, the first challenge they have faced was to convince the brands, market-leading gift card processors, and corporate customers to get on board. The first time Aron moved into the marketplace it was a very different proposition. They’re doing busines in a B2C market which only allowed the customer to exchange a gift card. At the beginning of 2017, Aron realised the consumer market is really narrow and limited, he pivoted the company into a far more broader spectrum to what they are today; B2B market. This also shifted the future of the company in a great way.
Once you overcome that, there is going to be another big and consistent challenge. If it is a breakthrough innovation you are trying to bring to the market, you should be ready for a hard work. Consumers might have hesitation to buy/use your product because of various reasons; not understanding what your product is, not wanting to change their habits, or just simple resistance towards new technologies.
WeGift managed to receive different investments throughout their time where they managed to grow into a larger organisation. They decided to bring on board more talent and to push forward Wegift as a brand. Initial funding was by the founder Aron. At the early stages, some angel investors also joined. After pivoting the company, they went through seed funding and closed £4 million in Series A. It was lead by Stride VC – a venture capital firm targeting seed-stage startups.
This allowed WeGift to show return to their existing investors and also created the revenue and interest. In 2018, 300 different retailers were acquired, revenue increased for 500%, gift card sales increased by 700% within 20 months.
Being a Startup in London
Every downside of a London conversation tends to be around cost. Even though it is expensive, it is in the centre of everything which makes it very convenient for a company to set its office up.
WeGift has over 100 customers in the UK and more than 80% are based in London. From this perspective, it is very useful to have close proximity to the majority of the client base. Since they are located in a community office in London, they are not just close to their customers They also have a chance to sign to new clients by bumping into them at the coffee machine!
Company culture is one of the most powerful assets, basically the personality of a business and adds value to the company in so many ways. WeGift is aware of the fact that employees are more likely to enjoy their time in the workplace when they fit in the company culture. The culture and the values they have created lean on the main idea: a working environment full of passionate people who has the drive and the excitement be able to make a change.
The two main things that are really important for a prospect team player;
- How can this person add to the job and to the value of the company?
- Most importantly, how can they add to the culture of the business?
5 Pillars of Culture for WeGift
The future workes are chosen with these following 5 pillars of their culture:
- Big hearts – come into the team and become a part of the team. Look out for themselves but also for everyone in the team as well.
- Sharp minds – one thing we are constantly looking for the right answer, doesn’t matter who is right for any cases.
- Furious drive – you should have the drive and ambition to achieve and do more.
- Curious souls – constantly asking questions. You want to make sure people are asking the right questions.
- True spirits – we want people who are true with what they do, they stick by what they do and they’re motivated and be true to themselves.
Celebrating the failure
Once a month they plan a team-building event. Both offices of the company in London and Cambridge gather together, have team launch, spend some quality time. They also share each other their experiences and celebrate both success and failure.
One of the key things they are constantly trying to push is celebrating failures as much as the success. When you are thriving to achieve the best, you should not underestimate the value of the failure. Don’t forget that it is a great way to learn and find better ways to keep it up!
Usually, a failure is actually an opportunity to fix or improve something in the business. So it makes a lot of sense to share it.
Software tools are building blocks
The most important characteristic of a successful startup is its ability to tackle complex problems in unique ways. Building a tech company is not just about the people, the investors, or finding the market fit. It is also about utilizing tools for your business’ benefit.
When your business is in a fast-paced, intense marketplace, software tools become a fundamental part of the business.
WeGift is also using various software tools to improve their work, keep better track of the daily issues, and communicate.
At the core of their business is their own tool and internal system, which acts as a platform to send and receive e-mails, send gift cards, load gift cards, basically covers everything to maintain doing business with their clients. Other tools they depend on are;
WeGift targets to grow their business to have global coverage and sign up 5.000 retailers. They will continue to invest in the systems and the service they provide. The future plans would be;
- Utilizing the Series A funding to increase commercial, finance and marketing
- Recruiting more talents who are fitting the company culture to fill the Office.
- Increase the headcount of the development department located in Cambridge.
Along with the ambition to make a change, the passionate team players and the amazing work WeGift has been doing, the future looks bright.
Each week, we will be visiting a new startup and ask about their value to investors, talent, tech tools and more… If you are as impressed as us with the Startups of London, follow us for new episodes.
In the meantime, you can watch our previous episodes!