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New fintech conference focused on branded currency comes to Omaha

Kristen Thiry and Holly Glowaty, co-founders of Flourish and K+H Connection. Image courtesy of Holly Glowaty.

Flourish: The Growth of Branded Currency is a fintech conference launching in Omaha this April 10 -12. The conference is focused on branded currency, and is targeting a range of retailers from those with a national presence to smaller Midwest retailers and their technology service providers.

“It’s a great opportunity for anyone in the payments value chain to to learn from and meet with service providers and merchants,” said Holly Glowaty, co-founder of Flourish and K+H Connection.

K+H Connection is the company hosting the event. K+H is a fintech consulting firm based in Chicago, IL that focuses specifically on helping fintech companies integrate with merchants. The team has formed many relationships with the top 250 merchants in U.S. and Canada, and are leveraging that knowledge to help up and coming companies integrate in a more timely manner.

This week we talked with Glowaty about branded currency, the conference, lessons learned while creating the conference, and what the future of the conference looks like.

SPN: What is branded currency?

HG: Branded currency is actually a relatively new term. In short, it is any sort of tender that is branded and used for a specific purpose or at a specific merchant or location. It could be a gift card, promotional value you earn through a referral or loyalty program, points earned through a credit card program, prepaid mall-branded gift cards, etc. These types of products are more than just a form of tender, they incentivize spend and behavior.

SPN: How is Flourish different than other fintech conferences?

HG: Flourish is unique because anytime you go to a larger fintech conference, branded currency is not a main focus. Even though it’s arguably one of the fastest growing, most sustainable and scalable segments of fintech. Branded currency generates hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue every year and it gets oddly ignored, probably because it is so fragmented.

SPN: What can people expect to take away from Flourish?

HG: We have made it so that every single session has actionable advice for attendees. We’ve cut everything we think is going to be a sales pitch or not useful. We will be doing a lot of panels because we want it to be more of a conversation, rather than people being talked at.

We’re also focusing heavily on fraud within branded currency. Fraud has been the number one thing that people have asked us to discuss, so we are going to have a huge session on it. It’s exciting because we’re bringing in a lot of really interesting companies to give advice on how to tackle this very real issue.

SPN: What about the event is most exciting for you?

HG: We currently have over 20 confirmed retailers who have a national presence that will be attending the event. We are anticipating at least 20 additional retailers will be attending as well.

We also have some big presenters including Kate Vitasek of Vested as our Keynote speaker who will discuss the power of collaboration in innovation. We have representatives from several large merchants such as Hotels.com, Krispy Kreme, and Jiffy Lube. Additionally, we are excited to hear from several of the large service providers in the industry including Ben Kaplan, CEO of CashStar, and Eric Thiegs, President of National Gift Card, and numerous influential people from the Omaha community who touch payments.

SPN: Why Omaha?

HG: Kristen (co-founder of K+H Connection and Flourish) and I were at Money 20/20, probably the biggest payments and fintech conference in the U.S., and I was standing in line and turned around and saw Marco Floreani, Manager of Business Development at Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership.

He said that his team would love to bring something in fintech to Omaha; and when there was another conference that was cancelled last minute in Omaha, I contacted him and asked if they would work together with us to bring Flourish to Omaha. Since then, everyone at the visitor’s bureau, the Chamber, and the STEP // Group have been fantastic to work with, and are really excited to bring this community to the Omaha area.

SPN: Can you tell me about the Women in Payments Reception?

HG: The reception is open to anyone who wants to attend. It’s just $17, and interested parties can register here. The event will take place Monday, April 10, 2017, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on the 19th floor of the Omaha Downtown DoubleTree Hotel.

It will be two hours of networking, and the whole idea is to elevate and amplify the work that women are doing in fintech, and to help advance their careers in whatever way we can. Whether it’s connecting them with a new job or connecting them with speaking opportunities– we are just trying to highlight the great things that are available to women in this industry. We’re expecting about 75 women at this event, and about 50 companies represented.

SPN: What are some lessons you’ve learned while starting this conference, as well as some things you’ve learned in fintech that you are incorporating into the conference?

HG: The first thing we’ve learned is that you definitely need to give yourself more than five months to start a conference (laughs). As we were pulling together content for the conference, we were initially nervous about how we were going to fill to full days. Now we have more than enough, and actually had to cut a lot of content down. It’s really empowering to see how much more there is still left to do in the industry- there is so much room to grow.

SPN: What is the big vision for Flourish?
HG: We are hoping to create better and more productive conversations no matter where you are in the value chain. We want people to actually understand the value of their program and how to make it  is going to grow.

Mel Lucks is a regional freelance journalist and former intern for Silicon Prairie News and AIM.