CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Raise, the largest online marketplace for gift cards, today announced a pivotal expansion of its platform following a rapid ascent to hundreds of thousands of active buyers and sellers, more than 3,000 featured brands and 500 percent revenue growth already on the year so far. The Chicago-based company released a mobile app that, for the first time in retail commerce history, enables consumers to purchase discounted credits to any store and use them immediately at the point of sale. Raise also revealed an $18.1 million investment from Bessemer Venture Partners. The December 2013 investment, undisclosed until today, brings the company's lifetime funding to $25 million.
"The support of Bessemer Venture Partners has enabled tremendous growth and innovation in our marketplace, including the development of the first-ever mobile app that brings in-the-moment card exchanges right to the store counter," said Raise founder and CEO George Bousis, who projects that shoppers will collectively save more than $10 million in the upcoming holiday season alone by using the Raise app for in-store purchases. "Beyond sheer convenience, what excites us most about this app is that it provides more opportunities to make our members' money worth more. Like the company's name implies, Raise's core purpose is to help both buyer and seller alike feel like they've gotten a raise after every transaction."
The app, now available for iOS, is a real-time extension of the full marketplace, which enables members to save on gift cards to any brand and sell gift cards or store credit for cash (all verified and insured with a money-back guarantee). The Raise platform digitizes physical gift cards and store credits into transferable electronic credits, and the app now mobilizes everything for in-store redemption. A user standing in line for coffee, for instance, could quickly find and buy a corresponding gift card and redeem it at the store counter, pocketing instant savings. With the app's Raise Wallet feature, users have easy access to all their gift cards and credits, not to mention the entire Raise marketplace, for on-the-go buying, selling and spending.
Since the funding round last December, Raise has grown from 13 employees to 107 today, and has active buyers and sellers across all 50 states. The average card or credit on Raise.com sells in about four hours at a 16 percent discount, with 96 percent of Raise users purchasing gift cards for their own use (as credit for future purchases) rather than as gifts for others. By making it easier to buy cards and credit below face-value, Raise is redefining the role of the gift card.
The U.S. gift card industry is growing by 30 percent year over year, and Raise is exceeding the market's pace, nearly doubling in size every quarter. Both the marketplace and app now stand at an intersection of the emergence of mobile payment technology, such as Apple Pay, and the booming sharing economy, which has seen concepts such as Uber and Airbnb flourish. By combining seamless transaction technology with the idle supply of cards and credit — an estimated 20 percent of the $400 billion prepaid retail market — Raise is poised to not only activate billions of dollars but also change how consumers approach each and every transaction.
The company also announced the appointment of BVP partner Jeremy Levine to its board of directors. Levine, who led BVP's early investments in LinkedIn, Pinterest and Yelp, brings a proven track record in identifying and accelerating opportunities for explosive growth in Internet companies, particularly in the consumer and online retail spaces.
"BVP is thrilled to invest in one of the leaders in the transformation of commerce and consumer behavior through technology," said Levine. "Raise has become one of the fastest growing companies in the country by empowering consumers to activate their own untapped buying power. We believe Raise could become a ubiquitous aspect of retail currency and the everyday shopping experience."
Launched in 2013, Raise was bootstrapped by Bousis prior to BVP's investment and other seed and angel rounds.
Raise.com is the largest, most trusted gift card marketplace, where members can save on gift cards to any brand and sell gift cards or store credit for cash. For every seller cashing in on old cards or credit, a happy buyer saves on a favorite store, brand or restaurant. With the Raise iOS app, members can take the marketplace on the go and instantly redeem cards or credit right at the store counter. Every transaction is verified and insured with a 100 percent money-back guarantee. Whether you're buying or selling, we're here to make your money worth more. Give yourself a raise — on us. To learn more or to try it for yourself, visit Raise.com or download the Raise iOS app from the App Store.
About Bessemer Venture Partners
Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) invests in early-stage, hyper-growth startups, partnering closely with entrepreneurs to build durable businesses. BVP is a global firm with offices in Menlo Park, Cambridge, New York, Bangalore, Herzliya and Sao Paulo. With $4 billion under management, BVP invests anywhere from $100,000 to $75 million in innovative companies like LinkedIn, Yelp, Skype, Cornerstone OnDemand, Pinterest, Box, and Twilio. Over 100 BVP companies have gone public. Learn more at bvp.com and follow us on Twitter @BessemerVP.