We recently spoke with Richard Blankenship, 29-year-old Cofounder and Chief Revenue Officer at Prizeout, a financial technology company. The following Q&A has been edited for concision and clarity.
What is Prizeout?
Prizeout is a financial technology platform that solves a cash out problem for our partners. Prizeout allows users to cash out faster and potentially at a higher value via a digital gift card.
Which industries are you targeting?
We’ve had some early success in the gaming industry, but we think Prizeout is a fit for many other industries too. We gained traction in gaming quickly because I worked in that industry previously as Chief Revenue Officer of Poker Central, the world’s largest poker media company and the rightsholder for the World Series of Poker.
You mentioned one of your companies before Prizeout. What can you tell us about your background?
I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I think what’s been surprising to me is how many industries I’ve crossed in such a short career. My first business was a real estate partnership I formed with Sam Simmons, my childhood best friend. We invested $10 million in Chicago-area residential real estate over five years.
Our lead investor in the real estate business owns Poker Central, the poker media business I mentioned earlier. He’s been one of my key professional mentors, so when he offered me an opportunity to join Poker Central’s sales team I jumped on the opportunity. I worked my way up from the most junior sales executive to become Chief Revenue Officer and an equity partner in the business.
As the Esports industry grew, Poker Central received requests to produce Esports events for large companies like Amazon. These brands sought Poker Central’s live production experience from tournaments like the World Series of Poker, but they didn’t want the affiliation with the gaming industry. That’s when I cofounded Estars Studios to handle these Esports events.
It’s been an unusual collection of industries, but I’ve just followed my relationships. At each stop, I was doing business with a close friend or mentor. The experience has given me confidence crossing industries. I know that as long as I build the right relationships and surround myself with the right people, I have a high chance at success.
What’s it been like growing a tech company during COVID?
It’s been strange, to put it simply, because we’ve grown so fast, but we’ve sustained this growth with everyone working remotely. During the pandemic, Prizeout raised a $4.7M series A and has grown from ten to twenty-eight employees. I’m based in Las Vegas while the rest of my team is based in New York, so I was working remotely before the pandemic, but I never would’ve expected to hold investor meetings, employee onboarding sessions, and board meetings via Zoom.
That said, the pandemic has accelerated a shift to ecommerce. Brands are looking for new ways to acquire customers and consumers are looking for new ways to stretch their dollars. Prizeout is perfectly positioned to help both brands and consumers do just that.
What’s next for you and for Prizeout?
We’ve achieved some major milestones at Prizeout these last six months by closing our series A and signing some of our biggest cash out partners. We want to build on that success and sign more partners and brands to the platform.
When I’m not growing Prizeout, I’m meeting with other entrepreneurs whom I provide angel funding to. Some of my favorite investments right now are CUTS Clothing, a menswear company, and Triller, a US-based Tik Tok rival.
You can find me on Linkedin and on Instagram.