Optimizing consumer rewards and benefits

🦄 Unicorner Startup of the Week:


✍️ Notes from the Editors

As two amateur credit rewards “hackers,” we can comfortably say that almost every transaction that passes through our lives is immediately matched in our brains with the right card. Almost.

The everyday reality is not so simple—and while Kudos makes the complexities of matching many transactions to many cards less complex, it also comes bundled with incentives that make it all the more appealing.

Wishing you a great start to the month. Hope you enjoy this week’s deep dive!

- Arek and Ethan 🦄

Optimizing consumer rewards and benefits

Kudos is a free web extension helping digital shoppers maximize their credit card rewards. Users save their credit cards to Kudos, and when they are checking out on a website, Kudos automatically analyzes the purchase and autofills the credit card that will give them the most benefits. Kudos will also recommend the best new credit cards for you, personalized to your spending habits. At participating online merchants, Kudos will offer twice the rewards by matching your credit card points or cashback through Kudos Boost, Kudos’s program to share affiliate rewards with shoppers.

🔗 Check it out: joinkudos.com

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💰 Business Model

While Kudos is free to shoppers, it generates revenue through online merchants and financial institutions. Kudos is an affiliate with over 15,000 vendors, meaning that when users check out using Kudos, the vendor pays Kudos between 5-7% of the value of the transaction. Furthermore, when users sign up for a credit card recommended by Kudos, the credit card company pays Kudos between hundreds and thousands of dollars based on the card.

📈 Traction and Fundraising

  • Raised a $10.6 million Series A round, led by QED Investors

  • Processing $19 million of gross merchandise value monthly

  • Scaled from 5,000 to 200,000 members last year, growing user base by 40x 

  • Supporting over 2 million merchants and 3,000 credit cards

👫 Founders

  • Tikue Anazodo: CEO: Previously Group Product Manager @ Affirm, Lead Product Manager @ Google, Product Manager @ Microsoft, CS @ Columbia

  • Ahmad Ismail: Co-Founder: Previously Product Advisor @ Renno, Group Project Manager @ Affirm, Lead Product Manager @ Google, CS & Business Administration @ USC

📖 Founder Story

Before founding Kudos, founders Tikue Anazodo and Ahmad Ismael had known each other for over 10 years, working together at the same companies, but always on different teams. Anazodo thrived in payments teams at Google and Amazon—roles in which he realized that payments are the lifeblood of how consumers function. However, the companies he worked for were all focused on improving the experiences of merchants, rather than those of consumers. Meanwhile, Ismael had a background in ads and learned the value extracting consumer insights had for the ability to tailor consumer experiences. They combined their expertise in building Kudos and striving to tailor experiences for all digital consumers.

🔮 Our Analysis

In a digital landscape of financial gurus and credit card “points hacking,” financial literacy is becoming increasingly important in the public consciousness, especially that of Gen Z. Among these economic conditions, people are much more conscious of where their money is going and how to get better value. Despite these trends, people are spending money online more than ever, and Kudos is well-positioned as consumers’ digital sidekick to help them make their money go further. Kudos ensures that consumers will financially benefit from the purchases they would be making anyway, and its free cost as a web extension makes it extremely appealing to anyone shopping online. Furthermore, the credit card offers it recommends are personalized to users based on their shopping data, making it extremely frictionless for customers to open the best card for them.

For merchants of all sorts, Kudos’ vast consumer spending data is invaluable. With increasing data security regulations and restrictions on cookies, advertising is broken—horizontal advertisers, those who target broad audiences with varying interests, have a decreased value proposition, as they often charge companies to serve ads to consumers who simply aren’t interested. Kudos’ insights into how customers spend allows them to focus on vertical advertising, empowering advertisers to focus their efforts and connect with consumers who are genuinely interested in their products. The personalized credit card offerings that Kudos generates are a clear example of its commitment to tailoring experiences for its consumers, a practice that makes them extremely valuable to firms. Kudos simplifies online shopping, personalizing experiences and cutting costs for consumers and merchants alike. With everyone increasingly focusing on savvy spending, Kudos stands out as a low-friction digital guide, helping consumers maximize their benefits and firms extract unparalleled consumer insights.

📚 Further reading

Written by Rohan Desai

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