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Recognition-Program Entrepreneur Keeps At It and Wins

Share Your Story: Unique Entrepreneurial Businesses & What Makes Them Successful

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Owner/CEO's Name & Business's Name

Razor Suleman, I Love Rewards

Year Established

2002

Why is your business unique and what's your pitch?

I Love Rewards is ranked the #1 online rewards and recognition solution provider serving North American top employers with revolutionary employee reward and recognition software that is ROI-based and guaranteed to drive behavior and impact any company’s bottom line.

Net promoter score= 82.3%, higher than any reported company including Apple and Google.

119% increase in customer acquisition year-over-year

92% increase in gross billings

Series A: $4.7M- 2008, led by JLA Ventures and Laurence Capital

- Series B: $8.7M- 2009, Led by GrandBanks Capital at a time when a number of VC investments were at a 12-year low.

What led you to start the business?

Razor Suleman is undoubtedly a serial entrepreneur, starting his first business at the age of 15 importing and selling hockey cards between Canada and the United States. The profits generated from that first venture paid Razor’s tuition for his post-secondary education. In 1995, from his university dorm room, Razor created Razor’s Edge, a company that provided students with branded apparel. Upon graduation, Razor traded his campus clientele for small businesses and large corporations, creating branded apparel and merchandise for employees. In 1999, after four years of success with Razor’s Edge.

In a radical innovation, SNAP Promotions’ shifted from branded merchandise to a points-based, online rewards program. Razor quickly discovered another need from his clients that changed the entire landscape of the business. A client approached Razor explaining that employees receiving corporate branded apparel from the company higher-ups as a “thank you” for a job well done weren’t satisfied or motivated by such gifts. No one was working harder for a coffee mug. Challenged by this obvious demand in the industry, I Love Rewards was created in 2002. A web-based business centered on increasing employee motivation and driving performance, thus resulting in a win-win situation for employers and employees.

Razor worked to foster a strong and unique corporate culture at his own company. Employees created a “Top 100” list of reasons they loved working at I Love Rewards (including “First Round Fridays” in the company lounge, a “First Date” dress code, and a company-wide volunteer day), and in turn Razor made I Love Rewards’ cultural philosophy people-based, making the company’s top priority to “recruit, retain, and inspire great people”.

The focus on employee motivation worked like a charm for I Love Rewards, and Razor’s business prospered.

In addition to building and maintaining a winning corporate culture, the I Love Rewards online business model was innovative and revolutionary in the industry for its time, and Razor’s clients responded.

Lessons Learned

  • In 2005, Suleman nearly quit the business and tried to pass it off to his second in command. Customer service was spotty, employees didn’t care and Suleman knew it was his fault. That night he went home to create a five-page master plan including the company’s vision and values which hangs proud in our office. He wrote what the company would look like as the multi-million company of his dreams.
  • Lessons learned
  • Create a 5-year vision plan for the company
  • Recruit, retain and inspire A-players
  • Customer centricity-they will help you through both good and bad economic times

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