Prezzee CEO Tony Karp changing and championing the art of gifting

Prezzee CEO Tony Karp

In the latest episode of Trailblazers Podcast, Tim Gilbert sits down with Tony Karp, CEO of Australia’s largest – and only B2B and B2C eGift card company, Prezzee.

A leading force when it comes to retail in Australia, having worked alongside major retailers like Woolworths, Metcash, Stockland, ScentreGroup and Specialty Fashion Group, Tony’s story starts in South Africa, where both his grandfather and father were retailers, which may explain how Tony’s career has come full circle. 

For Tony, Prezzee was ultimately meant to be a part time role, offered to him by Australian entrepreneur and Prezzee Co-Founder Shaun Bonétt.

“At the time he said – and I remember these words so succinctly – it will be a part time gig, you can do it three times a week and you can still get to play golf,” says Tony

Prezzee experiencing exponential growth

Fast forward to 2021, Prezzee now has offices in Australia, NZ, US and the UK, employs 96 people globally, and is set to distribute close to eight million digital gift cards this year. 

“If you go back to as recently as 12 months, that number was probably just under 1 million.”

“So the growth has been phenomenal. The Prezzee platform is quite unique, there are very few businesses in the world where you can go to a foregin country with almost no costs upfront.”  

“The business template of Prezzee is a near perfect model to survive a pandemic. Prezzee took advantage of the opportunities COVID-19 presented – namely the lack of human connection due to border closures and lockdowns,” says Tony Karp.

Prezzee rolled out a personalisation feature to allow customers add a photo, video or audio message to the eGift card, ultimately transforming an ‘impersonal’ gift, into something memorable and unique, and connecting people – when they were unable to connect in person. 

“When I talk to my kids I refer to it as a survival gene. At times in your life you are going to get tossed into the deep end of something and it’s what you do next that really counts.”

“Some people will find a way to take that opportunity, and make it into an opportunity. I would like to think that something like that is now playing out at Prezzee. Everybody gets that sense of being part of a happy journey,” Tony Karp said.

“The recipient is happy, because of their experience, the sender is happy because it’s been instant and painless, and the environment is happy as one of our core objectives.”

“That (happiness) translates all the way back to the people, because I have almost 100 talented people who come to work everyday to build happiness across the platform.”

“It’s a great place to be, it’s a wonderful product, everybody wants to get gifted something, so you have a natural audience of people who would be willing to accept a gift card – no-one is ever going to say no to a gift card.” 

Prezzee is championing company culture

Tony is adamant that it’s not only the product strength that makes Prezzee a success – but the people behind the product – and the culture the company creates that’s the key to success.

With around 27 different nationalities working at Prezzee, Tony creates an environment that allows each employee to be equally heard, equally appreciated and equally respected. 

“We are competing for talent across the fintech sector, so people who we would be recruiting at Prezzee are recruiting for Atlassian and Canva and for us to compete in that space, the culture and the values have to be rock solid.”

“The employees we are attracting and onboarding are focused on just how genuine the value is and how deep the culture runs – particularly Gen Y.” 

“One thing that’s changed in all of my years is how companies value the workplace now compared to how companies valued the workplace 20 years ago.”

“Now it’s all about the values and the culture and these are not just words that you say. Employees will see straight through that, people can see straight through rubbish and straight through the less sincere values.” 

The four values that define Prezzee 

Openness

That’s the transparency and the ability that you just your authentic self needs to turn up everyday you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not because we have hired you to be the person you are, and we just want that person to be as engaged as they can be. 

Greatness

Whatever we aspire to achieve we want to be as good as we possibly can in that space. 

Give a Damn

That speaks for itself, and everyone at Prezzee, wants your heart and your passion to be here. 

Magic

Let’s make magic, and that really is that sense of trying to create that moment.

If you recieve a virtual gift or a digital gift card in your phone or email, we want that to be as tangible of an experience as being given a gift face to face by somebody.  

When asked what’s next for Prezzee, Tony ultimately wants to anchor and continue to grow Prezzee internationally. 

“The US is the holy grail for us at the moment, we’ve only been in the US since December and it is a massive market – nearly thirty times bigger than Australia. Success for Prezzee in the US is probably equal to a 0.5% market share and we will get that comfortably,” says Tony Karp.

Do we continue to grow Prezzee into different markets or do we look to bring different products into Prezzee? Both of which are being actively considered by the team and by the board, and FY22 will give us the opportunity to probably do both.” 

To learn more about Tony Karp and his journey to make magic happen with Prezzee, listen to Trailblazers Podcast by Verus Global, hosted by Tim Gilbert.