Mogl’s loyalty program is as simple and attractive as can be: spend money, get cold, hard cash back.
The San Diego, Calif.-based startup that’s been around for four years lets its users spend money at partner merchants, mostly restaurants and bars, and get various percentages of the money they spend back every month. The company is raising about $11 million in new funding, which it will close out by the end of the month, cofounder and chief executive Jon Carder told VentureBeat.
Originally, Mogl’s model worked like this: Users signed up for an account and registered one or multiple credit cards. Then, every time they spent money at a participating merchant, they would get 10 percent back into their bank accounts every month.
But this past spring, the company rejigged its model to make the discount percentage and time periods adjustable for merchants. To do this, it’s partnered with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to get access to their systems and be able to match customers’ purchases with the time and place. That way, it can calculate the exact amount they should receive back.
On average, merchant discounts are between 5 and 30 percent at any given time, and there is a two-hour delay if a merchant wants to shrink the discount — a policy designed to save customers from feeling duped if they saw a higher discount in Mogl’s app a few moments before their purchase.
But because users rack up Mogl discounts without having to do anything different than the normal routine of whipping out their credit card, Mogl seamlessly integrates into the everyday flow. The money is automatically deposited into users’ accounts on the 15th of each month.
“Mogl is so easy that sometimes you use it on accident because you didn’t know that restaurant is a partner,” Carder said.
With that said, Carder was most enthusiastic during our conversation when he told me about Mogl’s new fundraising tool.
Publicly launched yesterday, Mogl’s tool is a twist on a well known fundraising approach. However, instead of being limited to one establishment and asking supporters to remember to bring in flyers or mention a cause, they can simply sign up for Mogl, join the fundraising campaign, and the money they earn will automatically be sent to the campaign manager to be donated.
For example, let’s say I wanted my company to support a local charity. I could create a campaign, get my coworkers to register for the campaign after making a Mogl account, and then every month, all the money they earn back by frequenting Mogl partners would be sent to me to donate to the charity on our behalf. We could even have internal competitions every month to see who can save-donate the most.
To be fair, Mogl has long had a soft spot for charities. It’s been donating meals to Feeding America for every $20 spent on Mogl and has donated more than 800,000 meals so far, Carder said.
The team eventually thought, “But what if we opened it up and let people raise money for anything else?” Carder said.
It’s actually that gamification-type thinking that gave Carder and his cofounders the original idea for Mogl.
Inspired by Foursquare and how it gamified its service (letting users gather checkins in order to become “mayor” of a restaurant or bar and so on), the Mogl team set out to create a way to make loyalty programs as addictive as checking in on Foursquare. Loyalty programs are important in helping small businesses stay afloat, but Carder and his cofounders wanted to create something different and more appealing than the models others like Belly, FiveStars, and LevelUp use, which is more of a digital punchcard approach.
Interestingly, Foursquare hasn’t exactly worked out wonderfully and is now desperately trying to stay relevant.
In the meantime, Carder and his crew have been spending some of the new cash on that deep integration with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express and will be using the rest to continue expanding (Carder says they project adding at least 14 new cities in the next 12 months).
Mogl raised the funds from Avalon Ventures, Sigma Ventures, Austin Ventures, and Correlation Ventures as well as from angel investors.
Mogl was founded in 2010 by Jon Carder, Jeff Federman, and Jarrod Cuzens. The company’s total funding is now at $25 million.