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Pogo lands millions to become the ‘Honey for the real world’

Pogo lands millions to become the ‘Honey for the real world’ Image
  • Posted on 26th Jul, 2022 15:33 PM
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If Pogo had its way, you’d get paid every time you stroll down Market Street in San Francisco. Or check your e-mail. Or open its app. The only catch is that you give your personal data to the consumer-focused fintech in return. “We can almost create Honey for the real world,” said Pogo co-founder a…

If Pogo had its way, you’d get paid every time you stroll down Market Street in San Francisco. Or check your e-mail. Or open its app. The only catch is that you give your personal data to the consumer-focused fintech in return.

“We can almost create Honey for the real world,” said Pogo co-founder and chief executive Dom Wong, who is building the company alongside founders Oskar Melking and Shikhar Mohan. The startup seeks to use a few tech trends to its advantage. First, as data privacy becomes more of a concern, users are able to choose whether or not to share their information with companies. Pogo’s argument is that if they do share – why not get a benefit out of it?

Second, Pogo is a play on the rise of ecommerce tools such as Rakuten and Honey, browser extensions that automatically find cash, coupons and deals in return for your shopping history. And third, it is using a slew of APIs to plug into everywhere consumers exist, from their inbox, to their transaction history to, if they so choose, their location data.

To scale data in exchange for cash, the startup raised $14.8 million in venture capital in the form of a $12.3 million seed round led by Josh Buckley and a previously unannounced $2.5 million pre-seed round. Other investors in the startup include Slow Ventures, Village Global, Harry Stebbing’s 20VC, MrBeast’s Night Ventures, Hyper, Shrug, and creators including The Chainsmokers, Sophia Amoruso, Ryan Tedder and Lenny Rachitsky. Additionally the startup has money from the founders of Front, Rent the Runway, and, quite fittingly, Honey.

Here’s how it works: when a user joins the app, they are invited to send their data to the company. Once Pogo is connected with different sources of information, it begins to show rewards for purchases, or recommendations to “act on ” to save money.

Part of the app is helping people, who opt in, get paid for their data: “Pogo makes it easy for you to aggregate your data in one place, giving you the controls to get paid for use cases that you’re comfortable with, whether that’s anonymous market research or personalized marketing from trusted brands.” The other part of the app is similar to Honey, in that it works as a type of financial agent that sees your spending and makes suggestions, both for better deals or promotions you may not know about.

This isn’t entirely unheard of. Dosh, for example, is a venture-backed startup that makes deals with retailers, brands and payment providers, and then offers cash back to users once they purchase a product associated with connected providers. The startup was valued at $400 million in 2019, per TechCrunch reporting. There’s also Nigeria’s ThankUCash, which landed $5.3 million to set up cashback infrastructure, and existing work from PayPal, which launched a new credit card that offers 3% cashback on all PayPal purchases.

Image Credits: Pogo

It makes sense that there is activity here. As advertising dollars flock away from Facebook and Google, retailers and brands want to find new ways to reach potential customers. I think of it like this: you can choose to sell your new workout gear while you’re browsing Twitter, or in the locker room at your local Crunch gym. The latter finds a consumer when they’re more attuned to fitness and style, while the former bets that someone may just happen to be in the mood for a new set while surfing tech news.

Pogo doesn’t have exclusive partnerships with local businesses to have certain cashback feels in exchange for lead generation, a route that some neobanks have gone down. Instead, the startup just brings together all existing deals in one place – and it’s that interoperability between different data sources that Wong thinks is the biggest competitive advantage.

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