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Nice guys don’t always finish last. Just ask Brendan Kamm, co-founder and CEO of THNKS — a platform that allows businesses and individuals to send gestures and gifts of gratitude to help drive business.

Kamm’s business has exceeded revenue goals on the premise of being nice.

Since relocating from New York City last September to Franklin, THNKS has more than tripled its workforce from 12 full-time employees to 40. Of the 28 new employees, nearly 80 percent were local hires, according to Kamm. The 20 percent of outside hires all relocated to Franklin. 

“Our new hirings were a byproduct of the incredible revenue growth we saw over the last 12 months,” said Kamm.

Kamm could not disclose exact revenue figures, but said they’ve seen more revenue growth in the last 12 months than the company had experienced in the two years prior combined.

The company has also increased the number of merchant partners on its online platform by 25 percent and now is partnered with more than 200 national and local vendors. Several Tennessee brands were added since its move to the Volunteer State, including Memphis-based Rendezvous Ribs and Nashville-based bakery Batch.

THNKS  is celebrating a timely milestone ahead of Thanksgiving holiday. More than 1 million “Thnks” — gifts of kindness — have been sent via the online platform since launching in 2016.

How it works

The online platform is designed to be user-friendly. Business can browse thousands of curated items at price points ranging from $5 up to $1,000 to select the perfect gift for a current or perspective client and adding a personalized message. 

"For the client who is always busy, try sending Coffee for the Week, or an Uber Ride  for your top customer on a rainy morning," Kamm said.

No mailing addresses are needed because the e-gestures are delivered via email or text message.

"In the midst of a bombardment of work emails, advertising, and countless other distractions, Thnks is the message that people actually want to open," Kamm added. "This is illustrated by our 90% open rate."

With digital Thnks like coffee or a pair of movie tickets, recipients will receive a digital code that they can use for online or in-store redemption. Recipients do not have to download an app or create an account to receive a Thnks. They also have the option to donate their Thnks value to charity if they choose.

The secret to success

Kamm credits much of the company’s success to its recent relocation to Williamson County.

“Our culture is a priority,” Kamm said. “Franklin’s reputation for community, Southern hospitality and gratitude is the perfect fit for our company.”

Like so many other companies who relocated to Williamson County during the pandemic, the area's talented workforce, thriving entrepreneurial scene and business friendly policies were also factored into Kamm’s decision to relocate.

Williamson Inc CEO Matt Largen and Economic Developer Nathan Zipper — who were instrumental in attracting THNKS — said they aren’t surprised by the company’s exponential growth.

“It was the perfect recipe for success — a dynamic CEO, a great product in a community that has consistently proved that it's an optimal location for business,” Zipper said. “I’m not sure I could be prouder that they chose Williamson County.”

In many ways, the pandemic — which wreaked havoc on many businesses across the country — actually accelerated the company’s success, explained Kamm.

“Saying “thank you” and showing gratitude has always been important in driving and retaining business, but it became even more crucial during the pandemic,” he said.

A report published in the Harvard Business Review this year claims that first-time customers are 42 percent more likely to use a company or service again if the company follows-up with a gesture of gratitude or thank you note of some kind.

Forced to shut down its brick and mortar storefronts to curb the spread of the virus, THNKS gave local and national vendors the opportunity to sell and market its products on an already established digital platform with a wide-reaching, national client base.

“The pandemic acted like a time machine: It brought 2030 to 2020,” Kamm said. “Retailers who though they had more time to create or grow an e-commerce platform were forced to accelerate their timelines and for many that meant leveraging a third party platform like THNKS to promote their products.”

In fact, IBM’s U.S. Retail index reported that the pandemic accelerated the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping and e-commerce transactions by roughly five years, which isn’t all that surprising considering e-commerce sales grew by more than 30 percent in 2020 from 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

Online e-commerce habits adopted during the pandemic are expected to not only be sustained but grow, which Kamm believes will only further advance the business. Consequently, Kamm said he believes the company will search for more space in Williamson County sometime in the next 12 months to support the projected growth.