Transforming Commerce: The Rise of Claim – A Biotech Breakthrough in Consumer Rewards and Social Shopping

Claim, a platform that’s a mix of a rewards app and a social network, just got a financial boost. They secured $4 million in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital. This startup has a mission: to make shopping enjoyable, rewarding, and social. It began with an invite-only beta launch in January, with a focus on university and college students in Boston.

The platform, called Claim, lets users and their friends earn cash back, exchange rewards, and even redeem them together. It’s designed as a social network that values real-world value and shared experiences over manufactured content and reposts.

The founders, Sam Obletz and Tap Stephenson, came up with the idea at Harvard Business School. Their initial thinking revolved around what it means to own something digital. “We started Claim because we were really interested in what it meant to own something online,” said Stephenson. “We saw this in web3 and we see this in sports, which is in collectibles. There’s always been places where you can own something online, but there was no generalized form of it. And so we started asking: What would it mean to remove all friction to actually owning something online? And that over time, led to Claim.”

Their vision evolved into a platform where users can earn rewards linked to their credit cards, usable in the real world. The uniqueness lies in being able to use these rewards with friends or exchange them, creating a social mechanism not widely available today.

Claim aims to bring consumers a new kind of experience similar to the idea of trading cards but for brands. It transforms consumer rewards into a multiplayer game, letting users have new experiences together while saving money.

If you’re a fan of a brand, you can send your friend a special reward like a free acai bowl or a t-shirt from your favorite shop. You can exchange rewards, try new places together, and earn status from spending at brands. Claim also does a weekly “drop” where users unwrap a new reward simultaneously. They can choose to redeem the reward, gift it, or trade it with friends.

While Claim benefits consumers, it also focuses on helping marketers and brands reach new customers without bombarding them with ads. On Claim, consumers discover brands through rewards from friends, and the platform believes trying a product is more beneficial than an ad when reaching new customers.

“We make it so much easier for marketers,” said Obletz. “We can find customers based on where they shop and where their friends shop. If they haven’t gone before we can give them a reward to try their brand for the first time, which is super critical because we’re bringing in real new customers, and we can show them how effective that reward was based on spend. And so it’s just this insanely simple marketing tool that we’ve created.”

Claim is currently working with various merchants, including Fortune 500 companies like PepsiCo and local restaurants like Life Alive in Boston.

Early results show promise, with one partner hitting 97% of their new customer goal in half the expected time, and another acquiring customers with a 35% repeat rate within 30 days.

Currently focusing on Gen Z users, Claim has over 10,000 users in Boston and plans to continue testing there before expanding nationally. The new funding of $4 million will be used to hire new talent and grow the team, focusing on testing and learning from an engineering perspective before expanding into new markets. This follows their unannounced $2 million pre-seed round led by Susa Ventures and Box Group, with participation from 6th Man Venture, Reflexive Capital, A* Capital, GSW Ventures, The Kraft Group, and more.