Tis the Season: Jason Wolfe is Mr. Gift

Jason Wolfe is CEO of GiftCards.com.

Jason Wolfe is CEO of GiftCards.com.

Chances are you are one of the millions of people around the world ready to give a gift card this holiday season. Safer and more thoughtful than cash, gift cards have become a popular way to present the perfect gift. Did you know that a driving force in the $110 Billion gift card industry calls Pittsburgh home?

As a child living on welfare, Pittsburgh-based GiftCards.com CEO Jason Wolfe grew up with few gifts. Yet, what affected him the most was not the lack of toys in his attic, but the pain and embarrassment generated by his inability to give to others, he said.

One cold Christmas morning in 1978, Wolfe sat huddled under a blanket with his mom and siblings with no heat, electricity, or gifts to be had – the  holidays looked bleak. But a knock at the door, the scuffling of footsteps on the porch, and a bounty of gifts left behind anonymously, brought a big smile to his face. Though his home life deteriorated further, and he spent the remainder of his childhood in the Milton Hershey School, Wolfe never forgot how wonderful that simple act of kindness made him feel. From that day forward, he has strived, through personal and professional endeavors, to make other people smile.

As founder and CEO of GiftCards.com, Wolfe heads up the highest-ranking and most-trafficked gift card website on the Internet. With the company slogan “make ‘em smile : )”, Wolfe is on a mission to bring about at least two smiles – one for the giver and one for the receiver – through the act of gifting.

 

Creating a Gifting Empire

A serial entrepreneur, Wolfe started, developed, sold, and even reacquired a variety of high-tech and/or dot-com companies in Pittsburgh. In his current and most meaningful project, GiftCards.com, he is attracting top talent from many corners of the world. In addition, he recently agreed to acquire the San Francisco-based tech startup, Giftly. 

 

The Future of Gifting

Wolfe sees gifting going digital in the future, and is determined to lead the way.

  • When homemakers were clipping coupons out of Sunday papers, he launched MyCoupons.com in 1995, releasing a wave of daily online discounts.
  • When Madison Avenue was searching for a paid-for-performance model, he launched Direct Response Technologies in 2002, one of the first affiliate network tracking solutions.
  • In 2003, when retailers were selling paper gift certificates, he envisioned a thriving gift card market, and bought the domain name ‘giftcards.com.’

Today, Wolfe has his eyes on the future of gifting. Surrounded by senior talent from AT&T, AOL, Viacom, and SkyMall, he is building a digital gifting powerhouse around online and mobile commerce.

Today, Wolfe employs 100 people in a company poised to multiply in size, thanks to the thriving gift card industry he helped build. One of his primary objectives in giving back is to create jobs in the city that is his home.  The gift card industry accounts for $110 billion of consumer spending, and the general gifting market surpasses $500 billion. He is determined to position the city of steel as a major hub in the gifting map.

“I find it ironic that outsiders often see more value in Pittsburgh than the locals,” explains Wolfe. “We have a world class university like CMU, great quality of life, and a growing tech community valued by the likes of Google.” But he claims Pittsburgh locals suffer from a bit of an underdog complex.

An underdog himself, Wolfe grew up in the Milton Hershey School (an orphanage school for significantly poor children) and graduated high school with a small suitcase, and $100. After paying his way through college, he suffered another blow, literally. Laid in a hospital bed, Wolfe taught himself how to program PERL, and coded what became his first startup: MyCoupons.com.

Having overcome poor odds a number of times, Wolfe is convinced Pittsburgh can do the same, and is determined to lead the way.

Omni Prepaid Group Launches Personalization Tool for Visa® Gift Cards

Omni Prepaid Group, LLC, the power behind GiftCards.com, recently announced the release of OmniBuild™, a gift card design tool that enables customers to personalize their prepaid Visa Gift Card by uploading a photo onto their gift card in the ordering process. OmniBuild is available to use on GiftCards.com and GiftCardsCorp.com. OmniBuild can also be private labeled by companies wanting to offer a gift card personalization tool on their website.

September was a big month for Omni Prepaid Group. On September 5th the company announced the opening of OmniPrint™, their in-house print on-demand card fulfillment center. OmniBuild and OmniPrint go hand-in-hand. Customers place their order on GiftCards.com or GiftCardsCorp.com, then select that they would like to design a custom card. OmniBuild pops up and allows them to upload a photo, crop and place the picture on their gift card, and emboss a personal message. The order is then sent directly to OmniPrint to print and ship the prepaid card to the recipient.

This is a useful tool for both consumers and corporate clients. Consumers can now personalize their gift cards with pictures of their family, friends, or whatever they want. “This really opens the door for people to make gift cards more personal,” says Omni Prepaid Group’s Executive Vice President, Jeff Lininger, “Customers find it amusing to be able to put their personal photos on a Visa Gift Card. Imagine going to the store and paying with a prepaid Visa card that has your child’s picture on it. The possibilities are endless!”

Corporate business is responsible for most of GiftCards.com’s business. More than one in three companies use incentives to motivate employees according to the Incentive Federation. Gift cards have been the number one corporate incentive for the last six years, so adding a personalization option will really give Omni Prepaid Group an edge in the huge corporate gifts industry. “OmniBuild was created in response to our customers’ requests,” states Jason Wolfe, Omni’s CEO, “Prepaid gift cards are such a popular gift, but our customers have been asking for a way to make them more personal and unique. That’s exactly what we did by creating OmniBuild.”

OmniBuild is not just for customers on the GiftCards.com and GiftCardsCorp.com websites. Companies can purchase this card-building application to use on their own websites. Retailers and restaurants greatly depend on gift card sales. Brandweek reports that in order to attract buyers, retailers need to provide personalization of gift cards as an option. Gift card popularity is actually increasing since consumers are looking for gifts that are also practical during tough economic times. OmniBuild gives merchants a bigger advantage when it comes to gift cards sales. “Think about it- if a customer has the choice between buying a store gift card with plain artwork in the background or one that has a picture of their dog, which would they choose?” asks Wolfe, “Now a company can offer this gift card personalization tool to their customers right on their website.”

For anyone interested, we’ll make the TECHburgher logo available for anyone wanting the first ever TECHburgher credit card! Leave a comment if you are interested…

Company: Omni Prepaid Group, LLC Omni Prepaid Group, LLC
Web Site: www.omniprepaidgroup.com
Location: Pittsburgh, PA 15205
Description: Omni Prepaid Group provides end-to-end prepaid solutions for businesses big or small. Omni Prepaid Group has powered GiftCards.com™ since 1999. Read more.

Pittsburgh Company Changes the Face of Multi-Billion Dollar Gift Card Industry

Council member, Omni Prepaid Group, LLC is doing some really cool things with pre-paid gift card technology. Check out their news release announcing the grand opening of their in-house printing center, OmniPrint.

Omni Prepaid Group, LLC, the power behind GiftCards.com, announces they are Visa® Certified and will officially bring their gift card printing in-house starting next Friday, September 5, 2008. Omni Prepaid Group will roll the presses in their 20,000 square foot fulfillment center, dubbed ‘OmniPrint,’ located in their Pittsburgh, PA headquarters and become the first and only gift card company to print their own customized Visa gift cards, merchant cards, and marketing inserts in-house.

This is revolutionary in the prepaid industry. Currently, gift card companies typically outsource this function. “By bringing everything under one roof, we can turn around our customers’ gift card orders on demand instead of waiting weeks,” says CEO Jason Wolfe. “It allows us to be more flexible with customization of 4-color thermaled on-demand prepaid Visa gift cards and merchant cards. It puts the control and on-demand customization into our customers’ hands.”

Omni Prepaid Group, LLC is the parent company of GiftCards.com, LLC, which currently services consumers and over 5,000 corporate clients. In 2007, U.S. consumers purchased an estimated $97 billion in gift cards. The prepaid industry as a whole brings in an impressive $218.3 billion each year. Over the next three years, Omni Prepaid Group’s GiftCards.com is expected to sell over $300 million in gift cards.

The gift card printing technology OmniPrint will use is state-of-the-art. These computerized DataCard® MX6000 machines with VHD technology can thermal crisp 4-color images on the front of the gift cards, create a customized magnetic strip on the back, emboss personalized lines of text, place an activation sticker, print a customized insert page, adhere the gift cards to the insert, fold, stuff, and print postage. The Director of OmniPrint’s fulfillment center, Chris Billiar, has been in the card processing fulfillment industry for 10 years and says, “This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. There are no other gift card companies out there that have this type of technology. We can print on-demand tens of thousands of secure Visa gift cards a day with just the click of a button. I’m really excited to work with this cutting-edge technology.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony and reception will be held at Omni Prepaid Group’s headquarters and OmniPrint facility on September 5, 2008 starting at 2:00pm to celebrate this revolutionary opening. Companies and individuals interested in learning more about how this can benefit their company should e-mail Omni for an invitation to the festivities.

Company: Omni Prepaid Group, LLC Omni Prepaid Group, LLC
Web Site: www.omniprepaidgroup.com
Location: Pittsburgh, PA 15205
Description: Omni Prepaid Group provides end-to-end prepaid solutions for businesses big or small. Omni Prepaid Group has powered GiftCards.com™ since 1999. Read more.