The company ranked 15th on the Deloitte list of fastest-growing tech firms in the last chapter is Prezzee, Australia’s most successful – indeed, only – e-gift card business, with an annual growth of 509 per cent. Its meteoric rise was down to an insight about a trend in special events during lockdowns, as CEO and Managing Director Tony Karp explains.

“We recognised that our customers still wished to celebrate life events and special occasions during lockdown,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “We transformed the traditionally perceived ‘impersonal’ gift card into something more memorable and unique, including an option to record a personalised video or audio message.

“We took the opportunity to launch the Prezzee platform in the US and UK – we had to adapt our business model and set about attracting professionals to a brand-new, relatively unknown company in a brand-new market. The 2020–21 financial year was a record-breaking year, and we have forecast transaction volumes of more than A$450 million for the next financial year.”


Nurturing a growth mindset

If someone tells me ‘no’, that just makes me want to prove them wrong. I’ve always said, ‘If you’re hearing no, you’re asking the wrong person.”

- Shelley Sullivan, CEO, ModelCo and MCoBeauty

The sporting world is full of hard luck stories. Great champions who emerge from brutal childhoods, overcoming seemingly insurmountable adversity to achieve spectacular success over opponents who’d faced no such hurdles. Novak Djokovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Mike Tyson, Diego Maradona and Pelé, to name but a few, became legends after being raised in poverty-stricken households. 

Of course, there are millions who didn’t escape their upbringing, but several psychological studies have suggested that tough times can build resilience, inner strength and important life skills. One study of 2,398 people found that those who’d experienced significant adversity throughout their lives had better mental health and wellbeing, a higher life satisfaction and were better at coping with setbacks.

In the business world, the 2008 global financial crisis was, to put it mildly, a period of adversity. Yet half the companies on the 2019 Fortune 500 List began life during an economic downturn. In fact, we can thank the GFC for many of today’s unicorns including Airbnb, Slack, Mailchimp, Groupon and Uber, while both Apple and Microsoft were founded during a recession in 1975.

What they all have in common is a leader who knew how to pick apart the bones of a crisis to find opportunity. 

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