A Q&A with Rewarder co-founder and CEO Kendall Fargo. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2011 and raised $7 million in Series A funding. Investors include Granite Ventures, Radar Partners and Ron Conway.
SUB: Please describe Rewarder and your value proposition.
Fargo: Rewarder is a social marketplace connecting those seeking unique knowledge or expertise with real people who are eager to help. People can post Rewards for just about anything, from a customized workout plan to a travel itinerary to Tuscany to a Reward for help finding a rare collectible. People not only feel a sense of validation when they’re able to share their knowledge to help others, it also provides them with the opportunity to make a little extra money.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Fargo: Rewarder is for anyone with particular needs and interests. Individuals, we call them ‘Rewarders,’ post monetary rewards as an incentive for someone to help them find elusive information or items, from missing pets to rare collectibles. We believe everyone has unique expertise that is valuable to someone else—we call these individuals ‘Rewarder experts.’
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Fargo: Rewarder is a very unique offering since there’s such a broad range of expertise being provided to those in search of personally meaningful information or items—be that a lost dog, tracing 200 years of a family tree, or the final missing piece to a collection someone has been assembling for 30 years. Our users have described us as a ‘reverse eBay,’ as well as a ‘cousin to Kickstarter’ since we use the crowd to solve peoples’ needs.
SUB: What differentiates Rewarder from the competition?
Fargo: Rewarder creates a more robust social commerce through authentic personal connections—users are passion-driven and have an emotional investment when engaging with other users. The marketplace is also driven by global consumer demand—in fact 75 percent of rewards have no local component. For example, when you are looking for that unique collectible, that specific travel itinerary or that genealogy history of your great-great grandmother, you don’t care where that comes from.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Fargo: Rewarder has been in private beta since 2011. During that time, the team has been laser-focused on user testing and iterating the platform based on user feedback and behaviors. In beta, we grew to 100,000 users and have now launched to open our community’s doors to the world, lending even more opportunity for everyone.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Rewarder? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Fargo: I’ve been a part of the ecommerce industry for more than 15 years and it’s now my goal to make commerce more personal. I’ve always had the vision to map the world’s knowledge and expertise, but because of the progress made with connecting our social graphs, this evolution in making commerce more personal is now possible.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Fargo: People can post ‘Rewards’ for just about anything. Our mission is to pioneer an evolution in commerce by mapping the world’s knowledge and expertise. We want people to feel valued for the specific expertise and insights they can share with others.
SUB: You just raised $7 million in Series A funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Fargo: The capital will be used to grow our team and continue to build out our infrastructure and site functionality.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise more outside funding?
Fargo: We have grown the marketplace to become a beneficial resource for 100,000 members to date and we’re now ready to launch to the general public to offer this service to everyone. These funds will help us accomplish that.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Fargo: Rewarder’s business model is driven by subtracting a 15 percent service fee from the Reward before passing it along to the winner.
SUB: What are your goals for Rewarder over the next year or so?
Fargo: We plan to grow our team, continue iterating the product and expand the platform to mobile. Our goal over the next year is to continue growing the community so that people from across the globe can access the resources of Rewarder’s Experts, regardless of where they may be located in the world.
Rewarder – www.rewarder.com