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Featured Founder: Alex Cusell of Jisell

Featured Founders


3 min read · May 1

About The Author

Embarc Collective

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Alex Cusell of Jisell, a universal platform where gift card brands can engage and incentivize their gift card holders to drive redemption.

What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?

I was a software engineer, but I always knew that I wanted to be a tech entrepreneur. After about a year, I quit my engineering job and moved out to Silicon Valley to pursue a Master’s Degree in tech entrepreneurship. During that time is when I launched Jisell. I had a bridal shower, where I received countless gift cards and unwanted gifts that were returned for store credits. My wallet was bursting at the seams with plastic cards, which was a frustration I had experienced many times before on holidays, birthdays, graduation, etc. I searched for years for an adequate solution to this problem. The more I explored this industry, the more I fell in love with the problem. Jisell brings together the best parts of existing solutions and new features that our users love!

What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?

The state of Delaware alone makes $40M/yr from unredeemed gift card money. Brands WANT you to redeem your gift card, but they have no way of interacting with you or even knowing who you are. Jisell solves this problem by providing brands with a universal platform to connect with and incentivize their card holders to drive redemption. For consumers, Jisell is a mobile wallet for all of your gift cards.
One thing that drives me is a deep desire to inspire future female entrepreneurs.

Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?

Shortly after receiving our first investment, I went through a pretty difficult co-founder breakup. For a while, I didn’t think I could do it on my own. I tried to rush into new partnerships, and I had a great mentor who convinced me that I could do it on my own until I found the right person. Since then, I’ve been a one-woman show, still open to finding the right partner.

Where do you see your company headed next?

Currently, we are focused on identifying and partnering with local franchisees to help them maximize their gift card programs.

Give us a tactical piece of advice that you’d share with another founder just starting out.

I would say that as a founder, your mental health is critically important and under constant attack. I would encourage anyone entering this journey to set a standard of prioritizing their sanity, personal values, happiness, etc. Some methods that have helped me: therapy, podcasts, meditation, journaling and volunteering.

Why Tampa Bay?

Many of my close friends grew up in Tampa. Every time I visited them, I fell more in love with the city. I’ve always been excited to move here, and I’m thrilled to finally call Tampa home!

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