Entrepreneur Turns Unwanted Gift Cards into a Business

Gift cards can be a great idea. But what do you do when a well-meaning friend or relative gives you a card for a store where you never shop?  Or for a restaurant you don’t like?

Hossein Kasmai, a Florida-based serial entrepreneur, came up with a solution. He started a franchise venture — Gift Card Monkey — to help people get rid of unwanted gift cards and put cash in their pockets.

This Entrepreneur.com story provides a good overview of Gift Card Monkey and how it works. Consumers can trade, sell or buy discounted gift cards online or at brick-and-mortar locations (such as kiosks in shopping malls) operated by franchisees. Gift Card Monkey usually offers somewhere between 60-95 percent of the card’s value in cash.

But what really makes Gift Card Monkey different is a software package and small device, similar to a credit-card swiper, that franchisees sell to local businesses. Kasmai, an engineer and one-time executive for Motorola, developed the technology, which allows merchants to accept any gift card as cash. Consumers can either take the money or use it to pay for their purchase.

So how did the company get its name? Kasmai asked his teenaged son and daughter for help — and they came up with Gift Card Monkey. The name, he said, indicates that “we’re innovative, fun and future-focused.”

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About Lynne Strang

I'm a writer who blogs about 40-and-older business owners. I am also the author of "Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: Eight Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40." Outside of work, I enjoy reading, cooking, vegetable gardening and exercise (especially cycling).
This entry was posted in Business, Career Changes, Careers, entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Retirement, Success and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Entrepreneur Turns Unwanted Gift Cards into a Business

  1. What a great idea! Since businesses use gift cards to encourage business, the trading and swapping probably all evens out not taking business away from the vendor. Eventually, every last gift card will be used and not just sit in your wallet. I wonder if one is coming here? A win-win as I see it!

    • lbstrang says:

      Georgette, you make a good point about the buying/trading still benefiting vendors. The Gift Card Monkey website has a search function to find location(s) near you. If there isn’t one in your area right now, you might be able to use the website to buy/trade your gift cards online.

    • lbstrang says:

      On its website, Gift Card Monkey says more than 10 percent of gift cards received go unused. I would have thought the percentage was even higher. At any rate, it’s definitely a business that fills a need!

  2. Tim Sanchez says:

    There’s definitely a need for this type of service. Great idea!

  3. KevinHo says:

    That’s a fantastic idea! Now I have a way to use up those gift cards from last Christmas…

  4. Wow! what an awesome idea! who would have thought of that..i sure wouldn’t!

  5. That was a brilliant idea. If we open our eyes there is a world of possibility around us. Thanks for the post.

    • lbstrang says:

      You’re welcome. I agree with you about a world of possibility being out there. Sometimes we find those possibilities by looking at everyday products, services or events through a different lens.

  6. Mike Wilson says:

    Finding a need . . . and creating a niche!

  7. mimshrestha says:

    Great idea. Very innovative

  8. Startup Savant says:

    Talk about a great idea!
    Wasn’t there a similar business like this on Shark Tank?

    • lbstrang says:

      I watch Shark Tank pretty regularly but I don’t recall a business like this being featured on the show. I could have missed this particular episode, however. Maybe somebody else out there knows.

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