Written by Kim Anderson, Managing Director at Jigsaw Business Solutions Ltd
What happens when you mix an industry expert, salesman & entrepreneur with a hard-working postgraduate at a career crossroads with mounds of University debt, having spent years backpacking around the world? Thankfully, for both John and I, eight years of fun and adventures in business. Huge thanks to an ex-colleague of John’s and a good friend of mine with a passion for connecting like-minded people. Working as a travel agent and finishing my MSc, I jumped at the opportunity to join this “…£multi-million, International business” as a Senior Account Manager – something to do with gift cards, he said. My google history in February 2014 consisted of ‘what is a gift card?’, ‘what does B2B stand for?’ and ‘what is a mall if it’s not leading to a Palace?’.
Fast forward a few weeks and we were in front of the leadership team in Joules HQ, Market Harborough, to get sign off for our first gift card launch project. Fortunately, the combination of John’s experience and confidence, along with my enthusiasm for the challenge did us well and we were appointed. Together, we worked tirelessly with stakeholders across the business to build program requirements and project plans, select vendors and card designs, understand integrations – existing and new, and the list continues. We were firmly in the consulting camp at this point and supported teams with everything from forecasting stock to educating finance about the treatment of gift cards and discounting in the corporate market. I’ll never forget sitting with John in our regular refreshment spot in Waterloo station, celebrating the safe delivery of gift cards – store by store! Joules’ migration from paper vouchers to an omni-channel gift card programme was a huge success, and B2C growth during our term with Joules was worthy of celebration – and fed our ambition to do more.
By 2015, we had a handful of clients, supporting and growing consumer channels and taking them to B2B markets for the first time. We were learning how to onboard new buying partners, process orders, track stock, reconcile payments, print cards, among many other things. Jigsaw’s place in the market was beginning to make sense to me. It is such a complex and niche product for a brand to navigate internally without recruiting a knowledgeable and experienced gift card manager in-house. There were advantages to having an outsourced team driving the success of the programme, taking care of everything and reporting to an invested stakeholder within the brand. Quite unusually, gift cards can be owned by just about any department, from finance to marketing!
We were humbled in 2017 to be trusted by global brands like Nike, Costa and Hotels.com. Emotions ran high for both John and I every time we had that anticipated phone call – did we get the gig? We took time to celebrate the small wins with the team, as well as the big ones. We rang a bell when a big gift card order arrived, and celebrated every member of the team’s birthday and their Jigsaw birthday with cake, banners, balloons, gifts and a glass of something bubbly. We kept our fridge well stocked and our locals knew us well in those early days.
In 2019, we had more clients, a bigger team, our own technology was developing nicely and every day was like a rollercoaster ride. Our growth wasn’t funded and was happening fast. I’m so grateful for the passion, dedication and good humour of the team and our shared commitment to drive the business forward and continually push ourselves to be better. It was a time filled with challenge, reward, exhaustion, fun, compassion, and change. For John and I, there was very little room for life outside of it and we couldn’t have been happier.
Shortly after that, we were all forced to work from home. From our dining tables, sofas and bedrooms we ventured into a new way of working together on video calls and found new ways to bring our culture to life virtually – without the over-the-desk banter that we’d become accustomed to. Since March 2020, we’ve welcomed 10 new people into the business, expanded our eCommerce business, secured new contracts with global brands and developed our own gift card processing system. John and I have been out of London for over a year, he’s launched a new business and I have 2 dogs. Life is very different indeed, mostly thanks to our incredible team. Several things have stayed the same about Jigsaw, not least of all our enthusiasm, energy and commitment to being the best we can be.
The adventure continues, and we invite you to join it. If you are a retailer, talk to us about launching a gift card, or growing your existing programme and driving revenue for your brand. If you want to use the power of global brands to drive employee engagement, customer loyalty or add value to your marketing campaign, talk to us. If you’d like to join the Jigsaw family, give us a call. We plan to keep doing this thing for a while.