2022 was a big year for Tillo. We hit $2 billion in total transactions on the Tillo platform and continued our expansion globally by welcoming our first U.S based Tillo team members - the very first of which was Martha Weaver, Tillo’s Head of Retail Partnerships for North America.
With more than 20 years of experience in the Gift Card industry, Martha is most definitely deserving of her affectionately given internal title as Tillo’s ‘OG of Gift Cards.’ Her insight into the gift card market, both in the U.S and internationally, is staggering, and we’re very proud to have her representing Tillo as we expand into North America 🇺🇸
Without further ado, we’ll let Martha take over from here and tell you a little about herself, her background, and her career in this Meet the Team Spotlight Q&A.
As a child, my family moved around a lot. We lived in Washington DC, New York City, New Jersey, and Upstate NY, finally settling outside of Madison, Wisconsin, where I went to High School and College.
Looking back, I think all the moves helped shape my relationship-building skills. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m pretty outgoing and can make friends easily, which are extremely important skills to possess in the positions I’ve held over the past 20+ years.
Today I live outside of the Twin Cities, in the St. Croix River valley. I love hiking with my dog, traveling the globe with my Husband, and reading about all the food I need to try and the places I haven’t visited yet.
It’s an interesting story, as I really thought I would be the next Martha Stewart one day and not an ‘OG of Gift Cards’!
The summer after college, I worked for a Bed and Breakfast in Door County, WI, which is sometimes called the Cape Cod of the Mid-West…a beautiful vacation spot on Lake Michigan and I fell in love with the hospitality industry…making things aesthetically beautiful, creating and serving delicious food to vacationing guests, surprising and delighting customers with little touches like warm chocolate chip cookies on their pillows and fresh squeezed orange juice when they awoke.
I realized I liked making people happy, and I was pretty good at it too. But soon, the season ended, and I had to find a “real” job, which led me to the Twin Cities. There I briefly worked for a Mediation Firm, and thought, having majored in Communication in College, that this might be a good career path for me.
One day, however, after sitting in on an extremely contentious session, I realized that conflict resolution was not something I wanted to do every day for the rest of my life, it zapped me of all of my energy, and so I went back into the industry I found comfort in, starting as a server (everyone should experience being a server, you learn a lot of valuable lessons on how to treat others) quickly working my way into the Catering Department at a Private Golf and Country Club.
As the Director of Catering, I helped people plan Weddings (hundreds and hundreds of weddings), Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Company Golf Tournaments, Holiday Parties, Business Meetings, Kids' pool parties; you name it, I helped plan it. I worked on everything from choosing the menus to selecting the decorations, sourcing entertainment, and even managing and directing all the staff involved in pulling the event off. For a long time, I really loved helping people plan and execute memorable events. I was young and single, so the crazy hours and working most weekends and holidays were par for the course. Then I met my future Husband, and my priorities shifted.
Target Corporation is in Minneapolis, and I loved Target. They had cool advertising, great merchandise, and a funky vibe that my 20-something-year-old self was attracted to. So, I started applying for positions in their events department. That, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, didn’t pan out, but I was hired to help manage a newly formed B2B Gift Card Fulfillment Team.
I guess my background managing our service staff at the country club and the fact that apparently nobody else wanted to work in the gift card department (what the heck are gift cards anyway?) was my lucky break.
I managed that team for about a year and then moved into the Gift Card Marketing team, where the real magic happened. Those early years at Target, 2000 - 2006, were so much fun. The team was terrific, with some of the brightest and funniest people I have ever worked with. We were allowed to experiment with substrates, shapes, and formats.
Everything was new in the world of Gift Cards, and Target invested heavily in the product. Target also puts a lot of energy into its culture and its people, enough so that I sometimes joke that I got an MBA while working there.
Needless to say, gift cards became my new jam, and 20 years later, it still is. I do still LOVE to entertain and throw parties, and I will always volunteer to help out with company and industry events, but Gift Cards have become my new passion.
Over the years, I’ve held a variety of positions within the industry, from Product Management and Marketing at a card manufacturer to helping educate and mentor those new to the space through my work with the Gift Card Network, the IGCC, and the RGCA, and now, I have the amazing privilege of helping introduce Tillo to my vast network of industry peers in the USA.
So as you can see, there wasn’t any “master plan” with a clear “end goal” in play here, rather the universe put some incredible opportunities in front of me, and I went along for the ride.
So, a typical day for me is currently divided into two halves. My mornings are spent mostly in meetings with my UK counterparts on our Marketing, BD, Operations, and Account Management teams. We collaborate on strategic initiatives, partner relationships, and industry events.
Afternoons, due to the time zone differences, are generally mine to use to work on projects and talk to our US-based Retail and Industry Partners.
I am also highly involved with the Retail Gift Card Association, sitting on their Board of Directors and leading the Fraud and Abuse Mitigation Task Force.
My primary role, and why Tillo hired me, is to establish direct distribution relationships with as many brands as possible. And given my long tenure in the industry, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and build relationships with so many amazing people; it's been relatively easy to spread the Tillo Story.
In the past six months, we have added Target, Walmart, The Home Depot, Lowes, CVS, TJX, Amazon, Apple, Kohls, Starbucks, Kroger, Albertson’s, Chevron, and many many more killer brands to our catalog.
As you can imagine, this doesn’t happen overnight, and the bigger the brand, the less they need to work with the new kid on the block… so as you can imagine, strong industry relationships really are key to our success here in the states.
The Gift Card industry is like one gigantic family.
Going to industry events is like going to a college reunion. If it wasn’t for this strong network of people, people who are willing to help network, lend support, share learnings, and collaborate on industry challenges, I don’t think I would still be working on this product. I’d probably have opened up “Martha’s House” Bed and Breakfast somewhere in Maine! Just kidding.
It really boils down to loving who I work with and loving the product that we all have made a career promoting.
When I first started out at Target, people didn’t really like Gift Cards. “Such a cop-out”, “Couldn’t you think of anything more personal to gift someone?” These were the sentiments we were fighting against. Now, for like for the gazillionth year in a row, Gift Cards are the most asked-for gift over the Holidays. Go, gift cards!
Similar to what I previously said, it’s the people. From the first conversation I had with Alex, our CEO, I got a really good vibe about the company. Then, when I started talking to our VP of People, Briony, that good vibe continued and grew even stronger.
The whole hiring process was so thoughtful, and she and her team checked in with me constantly as they figured out how to bring their first US employee into the Tillo fold. I was very impressed.
The onboarding process was also amazingly well thought out and executed, and even though I sat 4000 miles away, I instantly felt a part of the team.
On top of having an amazing “people first” company culture, the platform is well thought out and user-friendly, I was so impressed. The way Tillo approaches product design and marketing is equally impressive. The Engineering Team is top-notch and even held its first Tech Conference last Fall. What start-up does that? Amazing!
I could go on and on. As I met each person in each department, I knew I had made the right choice. Tillo’s values and work ethic made accepting the position, when offered, a no-brainer. Tillo truly is a gem of a place to work.
Sharon Forder, Tillo's CMO, and Martyn Fagg, Tillo's COO, with Tillo’s growing U.S team at an escape room in Austin!
If you are honest and kind, committed to working hard and having fun along the way, willing to take on new opportunities, and soldering on when challenges or obstacles appear in the road, you will become successful in whatever path you end up on.
When it comes specifically to Gift Cards, there is no class you can take in college that prepares you for a career in Gift Cards, but there is a community that you can tap into to help you along your journey. Take the time to nurture your relationships and learn from others. That’s how you become an OG of Gift Cards.