By Jason Gardner, CEO
Marqeta was founded on the basic idea of commitment and reward. I commit to paying for goods and services up front – the merchant rewards my commitment by giving me more to spend. Like many great ideas, ours started with a simple story:
At the time, I was working in downtown Oakland and was a frequent visitor of a nice little corner café named Café 15. Café 15 used the good old punch card loyalty program, which most small shops, especially restaurants, continue to employ today. At Café 15, if you spend at least $10, they’ll punch your card, and then give you a free sandwich once you earn 15 punches. The problem? My favorite sandwich was only $8.50. So, here I am, eating there three times per week, a loyal customer, never earning a punch.
Then came the “a-ha moment” – if I’m going to eat at Café 15 anyway, I’d like to get rewarded for my commitment to them. I’ll just buy the punch card up front for $150! To commit that much money in advance, I’d want something more in return – perhaps double the rewards, two sandwiches, which would amount to $20. So, I would pre-pay $150 for what might amount to $170 in spend. I’d take that offer all day – wouldn’t you? The owner at Café 15 agreed.
So the question, like the idea, became simple: If I was willing to commit money to a merchant before I walked through their door, would they be willing to give me a “return” on my investment? Could we enable a totally new approach to Online to offline commerce? I took this concept to restaurants, dry cleaners, convenient stores, and large national merchants, and they all agreed. Each merchant loved the idea of capturing a share of my wallet before I visited their store, and they all said that they’d be willing to give me a return on the money I pre-spent.
A year later, we’ve worked hard to transform that simple idea into a powerful business. We’ve grown, we’ve developed unique technology, and we’ve honed our foundational belief: You Commit. We Reward. Today, we’re making Marqeta the prepaid currency of choice. Our team and our partners are working every day to transform the consumer-merchant relationship to one of mutual recognition, commitment and advocacy. We’re in full pursuit of personalized commerce.
I’m interested in your opinions. What do the ideas of commitment and reward mean to you? Don’t you want to get rewarded for the money you are already “investing” at your favorite merchants? What kind of return would you expect for your investment in these brands? I look forward to your comments…and in the meantime, my Marqeta business partners and I will keep working hard to get you more – more rewards, more loyalty and more recognition – from your favorite merchants.