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.”