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1:1 with Founders

1:1 with Mike Vogus

Mike Vogus is the Chief Revenue Officer and Co- Founder of TOTUS.

Let’s start with a brief intro about you:

I have always been entrepreneurial, dating back to college when I started a painting and remodeling company, employing a group of friends every summer. I have been involved in the FinTech, Payments and finance space for nearly 20 years, most of that time focused on client and vendor-facing spheres, creating strategic partnerships plus the support mechanism behind those relationships. Most recently, I spent 10 years at SVM to helped create and build out their scalable issuance and program management model for digitally native and emerging retailers. Now I am incredibly excited to build the next evolution of that model at TOTUS.

My personal life is entirely dependent on whether Pearl Jam is on tour or not! If so, then I’m chasing them around the world with the same group of friends I spent my summers painting houses back in college!  Since they are currently on tour again, I will be heading to Nashville, Louisville, St. Louis, Ottawa, Quebec City and Dana Point, CA this year to catch their shows.

I have always used my Pearl Jam obsession to fuel my other passion – travel. The fortunate excuse of attending a concert is a great reason to travel to new cities, countries and continents.  Without a doubt, my favorite place to travel is Hawaii (8 trips in the last 10 years) or any tropical destination. If I’m not at a show or sitting on a beach, typically you will find me in our backyard (or a neighbor’s backyard) hanging out with my wife, two daughters and friends around a bonfire.

What is your motivation for founding TOTUS?

Honestly, I am motivated by solving complex problems with efficient solutions. Many of our clients come to us because they are simply overwhelmed. And recent conditions with the pandemic have exacerbated their issues- brands are understaffed, under-resourced and are tasked with more pressing issues than their gift card program. Gift cards are important to every retailer, but they are not a core competency of any retailer.  We thrive on showing retailers the efficiency of our model so they can focus on what they do best.

When did TOTUS launch and how much has it grown as of date?

TOTUS officially opened its doors February 1st, 2022, however the concept and structure was established three years ago. In the short time since we’ve launched, TOTUS has grown to 14 employees and we currently have multiple clients in the implementation phase.  We expect to see the TOTUS issued gift cards in distribution by early Q3.

Have other companies pursued the same concept as TOTUS?

SVM (now Blackhawk Network) was the first to offer truly outsourced gift card issuance and full program management, however it was very narrowly focused on supporting large gas card programs.  TOTUS is bringing a model that is adaptable and scalable to any industry and any size card program, with a heightened focus on digitally native and emerging retail.  Gift cards will always be very important to retailers, but they will rarely be a core competency for any retailer.  TOTUS allows retailers to achieve the maximum return on their gift card program without distracting from their core business.

What is the process for a brand to hire/ enlist TOTUS for their gift card program?

The process is quite simple and we pride ourselves on being nimble and executing with speed.  Whether a company has an existing gift card program with expansive distribution or is looking to launch a gift card program for the first time, TOTUS can typically pull together a review and proposal within 5-7 business days.

How is TOTUS publicized toward potential clients? Do you find them or do they find you?

Currently, we identify potential clients, although we have had several inquiries from former clients of SVM.  We are fairly selective in the process and have focused on digitally native and emerging retail brands.  As our current pipeline of brands come to market, we feel that other prospects will begin finding us.

Is TOTUS available to all size companies? US only or global?

Our primary geographical focus is North America, however we are looking at global expansion over the next 12-18 months.

As of today, our clients consist of all sizes and verticals, from up-and-coming eCommerce retail brands to companies that have recently gone through an IPO to companies that are staples within the Fortune 500; we have a solution for just about any brand looking to launch or expand their gift card program.

What is the size of the gift card industry?

Gift Card sales in the US topped $170 billion in 2021 and are projected to reach nearly $240 billion by 2025.

What is the future of gift cards?

We believe that the gift card industry will continue to trend toward digital and wallet-based products and that consumers will continue to use gift cards on purchases for themselves (i.e. “self-use” buyers) not just as a mechanism for gifting.

What defines the culture of TOTUS?

TOTUS absolutely revolves around people- our clients, vendors, prospects and employees.  We believe in operating with respect and transparency within the industry to our vendors and suppliers, as well as with our clients, prospects and of course, our employees.  We truly operate with the mentality of “be the brand” to ensure we always execute on behalf of the best interests of our clients

What is your personal objective for TOTUS?

We aspire to work with brands that will view us as extensions of their team to deliver the best gift card experience for their customers.  I believe we will see TOTUS become the industry leader and “gold standard” in providing full-service gift card issuance and program management services on behalf of retailers worldwide.