Q: Tell us about what your company does.
A: Raise is changing the way people think about gift cards, saving money and retail payment technology. On our marketplace cards are sold below face-value by members, to members—one gets cash for their unwanted gift cards, the other has the opportunity to save at their favorite stores.
Q: How long has your company been around and how did it get its start?
A: With the CARD Act of 2009, many brands’ gift cards no longer expire or have inactivity fees. As a result, they could now be sold in the secondary space. Coupled with the roughly 25% of gift cards that go unused every year, and the $300 in gift cards the average consumer has lying around their home, the market was ripe for disruption.
Raise was founded in 2011 by George Bousis (Founder and CEO), and officially launched in February 2013. Starting with only 10 employees, Raise now has over 240 at their headquarters in Chicago.
Q: Why is your company located in Chicago? What makes the city a great place to build a business?
A: Chicago has a substantial tech community with some very talented people. Being around other innovative startups, like Grubhub, GoHealth and Groupon, there’s a lot of excitement around new businesses here, and it’s very inspiring. Along with the talent, the city itself is very supportive of the innovative tech community.
Our office is now located at Sullivan Center in the heart of the city’s oldest shopping area. The retailers and brands offered on our marketplace are quintessential to who we are. Being surrounded by those stores and restaurants, it’s the perfect location.
Q: How does your company stay connected to Chicago’s entrepreneurial community?
A: Raise hosts various get-togethers for the Chicago community including tech trivia night and guest speakers that touch a range of topics from coding to app design. At Raise, we find it very important to support our Chicago tech community and often sponsor events like TechWeek to connect with other businesses and talent in the city.