When Prizeout, a financial technology company, announced it had raised its $4.5M series A this May, the announcement seemed commonplace. As financial payments and retail transactions have moved to digital, the financial technology industry has experienced record volume. Prizeout, a New York City-based startup, is one of the companies servicing that ecosystem.
While Prizeout’s 28 full-time employees are based at the company’s Manhattan headquarters, Richard Blankenship, the company’s Cofounder and Chief Revenue Officer, calls Las Vegas home.
“I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” Blankenship says. “This company was built on some of the early gaming relationships I made here in Las Vegas. These gaming companies were our first partners on the platform.”
Blankenship describes his company’s platform as a cash out option for users seeking to withdraw funds. A user with an online gaming account who seeks to withdraw funds is usually limited to ACH, PayPal, or physical check. Prizeout gives these users another option – they can choose a digital gift card from one of Prizeout’s brand partners. This payment method delivers funds immediately to the user, sometimes with a cash out bonus.
It’s an opportunity Blankenship quickly recognized based on his prior experience in the gaming industry. Blankenship was previously Chief Revenue Officer with Poker Central, the Las Vegas-based rightsholder for the World Series of Poker, and operator of the 10,000 square foot PokerGo studio at the Aria Resort and Casino.
In 2018 Blankenship and serial entrepreneur David Metz were inking a deal that would have used Poker Central’s live production experience to produce a hybrid trivia and poker show for Metz’s trivia app, Fleetwit. Over the three months of negotiation, Blankenship and Metz grew close.
In one of their conversations Metz mentioned his idea for his next company, Prizeout. “I instantly saw the opportunity,” Blankenship says. “I knew executives at all the gaming companies in Vegas and most of the online operators internationally, and I knew they were all struggling with this cash out problem Prizeout could solve.”
Blankenship and Metz made a handshake deal shortly thereafter, and Blankenship wired Metz the seed capital for Prizeout. As Blankenship grew more involved on the company’s board of directors, Metz brought him on full-time as Cofounder and Chief Revenue Officer.
As Prizeout has grown, Blankenship has spent more time in New York. He has also attracted a number of potential partners to Las Vegas. Blankenship comments, “Partners in other industries have seen our early success with gaming operators and have gotten to know us through events like CES. Once we have that initial meeting, they are excited to return to Vegas and continue the conversation.”
Blankenship has also executed a number of angel investments out of Las Vegas. He is a seed investor in CUTS Clothing, an LA-based apparel company, and MightyKidz, a Seattle-based childcare facility. He’s a series B investor in Triller, a US-based Tik Tok rival, and he is constantly sourcing new investments. Asked if his residence in Las Vegas has hampered his investing activities, Blankenship replies, “Absolutely not. Almost all of the startups in my portfolio do business digitally. They aren’t addressing a local market. They’re often based in tech hubs like LA or New York simply because that’s where their employee base is located. When they learn that I’m based in Las Vegas, most of the time, they’re excited. I can give them access to a local network of gaming executives, music industry influencers, and nightlife events that can benefit their companies.”
With a stream of entrepreneurs leaving major tech hubs of San Francisco and New York during the pandemic, perhaps Blankenship is just ahead of the curve. “I’d certainly love for more tech talent to come to Las Vegas,” Blankenship adds. “This is a terrific opportunity for the city to diversify into new industries. There is definitely room for other companies to follow Prizeout’s lead and modernize an aspect of the gaming business.”
Presented by T1