DURHAM – Serena Ventures and Seven Seven Six are two lead investors in a $5 million fundraising round for startup Lolli, which rewards consumers for making online purchases by providing a percentage of their transaction back in bitcoin, rather than dollars.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Seven Seven Six, Serena Ventures, and a fantastic team of investors in creating the easiest way for people to earn bitcoin when they shop,” said Alex Adelman, co-founder and CEO of Lolli, in a statement.  “This is an exciting time and opportunity to accelerate adoption and increase accessibility to bitcoin.”

The company was founded in 2018 by Matt Senter and Alex Adelman, serial entrepreneurs with ties to the Triangle as graduates of North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, respectively.  Though the company is currently jointly based in New York City and Durham, 90 percent of their team has been based in North Carolina since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesperson for the company told WRAL TechWire this week, with some employees working remotely rather than from the office space the company has on Fayetteville Road in Durham.

Adelman told the News & Observer this week that once COVID-19 vaccinations become more widely available, the company plans to find a permanent location for offices in Durham.  Adelman moved from New York back to North Carolina within the past year, according to reporting from the News & Observer.

Prior to founding Lolli, Senter and Adelman cofounded and developed the commerce technology company Cosmic, which was acquired by PopSugar in 2015 and then Rakuten in 2017, giving the cofounders a depth of experience in working with and understanding retailers.

According to a statement issued by Lolli this week, the raised funds will be used to develop the company’s mobile application with the goal of facilitating a seamless shopping experience for its user base while also pursuing an international expansion beyond United States markets.

“Earning and owning bitcoin is a step towards financial inclusivity for all people,” said Serena Williams, on behalf of the investment in the company made by Serena Ventures.

Williams’ husband, Alexis Ohanian, is the co-founder of Reddit and the founder of venture capital firm Seven Seven Six, which also participated in the round.

“They have a unique chance to engage with an entirely new Bitcoin user base,” said Ohanian in a statement.  “As someone who has closely followed and participated in the industry, I see this as a crucial turning point to drive value and create opportunity for the mainstream.” Ohanian is also an investor in Coinbase, a bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange platform.

Other investors in the “pre-series A” round include Night Media, the management company that represents YouTube star MrBeast, and YouTube content creators Casey Neistat and Cody Ko, among others.  The $5 million round follows a $3 million seed round the company closed in 2018, whose investors included Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Phan, and Bain Capital.

According to a statement issued by the company this week, the company offers up to 30 percent of the value of a qualifying purchase back to the consumer, paid in bitcoin, with an “average of 7 percent bitcoin-back rewards at more than 10,000 top retailers and Fortune 500 companies like Kroger, Best Buy, Nike, and Ulta.”