CARY – Jonathan Hayes, founder and CEO of Cary-based RewardStock, will take the stage tonight to pitch to investors in the opening episode of the tenth season of ABC’s popular show Shark Tank at 8 p.m.
The company, which according to Hayes, has increased their user base to more than 10,000 active users, just released a brand new user experience by overhauling their user interface and launching an online booking service to complement their rewards management platform.
“This is big for travelers,” said Hayes in an interview, “as we now offer a complete end-to-end reward travel planning and booking experience.”
The company charges an annual membership fee of $29, which provides members with access to reward point tracking, guidance on the best reward cards based on personalized goals, assistance on how to strategically use and redeem rewards travel points, and seamless travel booking. The company also generates revenue in referral fees when members use the platform to apply for and receive travel credit cards.
“We help travelers who want to save money,” said Hayes. “Our market is pretty big.” They’re banking on the fact that the rewards travel redemption process is sometimes pretty complex, and they provide a useful service to maximize the value of rewards credit cards.
David Gardner and Cofounders Capital were early backers of Hayes and RewardStock, investing $300,000 in the firm in 2015. In total, said Hayes, the company has raised $1 million from local investors in North Carolina. Hayes and Gardner are keeping quiet about whether Spanx inventor Sara Blakely, real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Mark Cuban, or Kevin O’Leary–the sharks in season 10–will choose to invest in the company.
The company was already in the process of raising additional funds, said Hayes, when a member of their platform emailed to share that she worked for the show and wanted to encourage them to apply to pitch. “I was highly skeptical,” said Hayes, “as the process continued, it started to feel like a more realistic possibility that we might be chosen.”
RewardStock was selected to pitch, and the session filmed in June.
“It was very intense,” said Hayes about the experience. “We mostly wanted to pitch to see if we could gain the support of a Shark and present our business to the country.”
As a large part of success for a consumer-facing software business is building a robust audience, said Hayes, “if you have the opportunity [to pitch on Shark Tank], it’s a win whether you get a deal or not.”
The American Underground @ Main is hosting a watch party at 201 W. Main Street in Durham tonight. It airs at 8 p.m. on ABC.