Raise gets $60 million for gift card marketplace



Have you ever gotten a gift card for a store you don’t shop at? Or have you made a purchase and don’t know what to do with the remaining balance?

It turns out you can sell and trade unwanted or partially unused gift cards on a marketplace called Raise. If you don’t want a Starbucks gift card, you can sell it or get one for Macy’s. They also have iTunes, Sephora and Home Debut on their list of nearly 400 brands.

And with a customer base of two million users who spend an average of $500, Raise has been able to convince investors at Accel Partners, PayPal, NEA and Bessemer Venture Partners that it’s ready for another $60 million in funding. This brings their total capital raised to $147 million, dating back to 2011.

“Why wouldn’t I use Raise to pay for anything, anywhere I go? I’m always going to save money at any place,” explained George Bousis, founder and CEO at the Chicago-based startup. “We’re becoming the one-stop shop, the complete wallet.”

Raise gets its gift card codes from individual sellers, but it also works with brands who sell discounted cards. Businesses are willing to sell the cards at a discount, because as Bousis estimates, “gift cards lead to about 45% overspend on the first transaction.” In other words, people spend $145 after receiving a $100 gift card.

But from a consumer perspective, what’s the difference between a gift card code or a coupon code or all the various discount sites and apps? RetailMeNot, Ebates and Ibotta have all gained traction and there are a lot of digital wallets, too.

Bousis believes that there are too many apps out there and that Raise offers a better experience. “All these companies have added so much friction in the overall process.” He says his product is a “simple offering and simple process that takes a lot of thinking out of the mix.”

Bousis says he plans to use the funding to add new partnerships and functionality to the Raise platform.  Soon it will “allow you to take the currency you have and turn it into Uber credits for your ride home.”



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