Getting paid to shop sounds too good to be true, but it turns out there’s an app for redeeming rebates on virtually everything you pay for.
Ibotta is a consumer technology company based in Denver, Colorado and founded by Bryan Leach. While Denver isn’t the hippest start up scene for investors, the city does have a middle America feel to it, the perfect environment for an app that targets the masses. Ibotta (“I bought a…”) allows consumers to earn cash back on purchases they’ve made through one app, as opposed to in the past where consumers had to download a different app for every store they went to that offered bonuses. Partnered with over 100 retailers, @IbottaApp offers deals and savings on groceries, electronics, clothing, events, restaurants and more.
After a year of brainstorming, Leach officially launched Ibotta in 2012. He was born in Kenya to a British family, then moved to the US and watched his father start and grow his own business. The entrepreneurial spirit stayed with him throughout his studies at Harvard, Oxford and Yale Law school. Leach saw an extremely successful career in law practice, but he misunderstood his love of convincing people of things. The lawyer career path turned out to be unidimensional for his interests, so when the idea of Ibotta struck, Leach felt a calling to go all in on his business idea.
From his time as a lawyer, Leach made incredibly useful connections. Many of his partners ended up being angel investors, along with family members and his wife’s connection to Larry Sonsini, a major name in Silicon Valley. After raising $3 million in the seed round, it was clear that the investors were betting on Leach, not his hazily outlined idea.
Ibotta proved itself as an incredible resource for connecting brands to consumers and providing data and insights on behavior. As mobile shopping becomes increasingly popular, brands want to see how shoppers are going about making in-store purchases. By educating consumers on products and building brand awareness by making app users watch a video or take a survey when adding a rebate, Ibotta helps build that connection. This gives brands more information on campaign performance create brand loyalty. Apps like Ibotta are also increasingly useful as radio and TV advertising falls off, but given Ibotta’s size and connections they don’t seem to have to worry about competitors.
Rebates are typically between 25 cents and $2, but it adds up. Ibotta has paid out more than $275 million in cash back to its users. Ibotta has nearly 23 million downloads, and is one of the most frequently used shopping apps in the United States. There are hundreds of success stories of how the little bit of extra cash really makes a difference in the lives of those struggling to make ends meet.
The demographic is typically women between the ages of 15 and 45 and a median household income of $58,000. And Ibotta users spend over $6 billion every year using the app.
Leach was ahead of the game in how he foresaw the ways mobile devices and data analysis about transactions could remake the retail industry. He was named by Ernst & Young as a regional Entrepreneur of the Year for 2015. As of 2016, Ibotta had received over $73 million in funding. Currently, Ibotta has over 500 employees and sees profits triple year to year.