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Fintech Friends: Diggecard

Diggecard is committed to digitalizing the gift card industry by providing innovative gift card expertise and technology to all types of businesses. Meet Olav Balandin, the CEO and Founder of Diggecard, who gives a summary of the company, his inspiration to start the company, important habits to be a successful entrepreneur, and more.

Written by: Ivanessa Staykova

Pitch Diggecard in one sentence:

Diggecard is a leading global software as a service (SaaS) gift card platform that is delivering gift card expertise and solutions to retailers, platform partners, and corporates.

What is unique about Diggecard?

We have built a scalable plug-and-play solution for the paytech industry that could be rolled out massively to the merchants of payment service providers (PSPs), banking platforms, acquirers, merchant banks and other fintech players all over the globe.

What inspired you to start Diggecard?

When I moved home from Silicon Valley in December 2013, I had my first Christmas lunch with one of my co-founders Arvid Torset. He pitched the idea of making gift cards digital. At that time, gift cards were stuck in the 90’s in the paper and plastic form. After some months of researching the market, we decided that it needed a change and we started on our MVP in the summer of 2014.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

The biggest challenge so far has been the process of acquiring our first company, NGC UK, in the fall of 2019. NGC UK provides secure and innovative gift card technology solutions. After several months of negotiation and competing with other gift card companies, we won the race. Now, two years later, we have built a brand-new scalable tech platform for the corporate market and turned the company that was losing millions each year into a profitable company with fast growth.

Where do you see Diggecard in 5 years?

We would be the preferred gift card solution globally, with 1 million merchants using our solution through our partnerships with acquirees, banking platforms and other fintech companies.

What is the best part of being an entrepreneur in Norway?

The number one is the social security net if you fail. In the U.S., you might end up in the streets if you don't succeed, but in Norway, you would get social welfare while recovering.

However, this does not create good companies. But, living in a tech-savvy country and working with colleagues who are not afraid to express their opinion and feedback about products, strategies, etc. does.

What are the most important habits to be a successful entrepreneur?

Success never comes easy and like top athletes you need to put in hours in training and failing. The most important thing is to have stamina. Building a company is a marathon, not a sprint and you will take hits continuously.

Also, it is important to remember to celebrate your wins and milestones on the way. There is always a big pile of backlogs in front of you that makes you think you get nothing done (which is not true).

Five Fun Facts:

Who is your role model?

In business, it is the founders of Meltwater, a media monitoring and social listening platform founded in Norway. It is impressive how they built their company to become a global tier 1 in their industry by organically focusing on sales and not taking any investor money.

In my personal life, it is my grandmother that always reminded me about being grateful for what I had and to take care of those who had less. Coming from a very poor family working from when she was 6 years old (even eating “barkebrød” in periods), she had really experienced the transformation of Norway from a poor country to post-oil wealth and did not take that for granted.

What is your favorite book to read?

Any book by Lars Monsen or Roy Jacobsen will do. But if I need to pick one, it is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Mikkeli in the Alta River. It is the best fishing place in the world for Atlantic salmon.

What is one thing about yourself that your LinkedIn profile doesn’t tell us?

I love to arm wrestle! Typically done after a beer or two.

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