We all have that friend who tirelessly chases reward points, air miles, and other indeterminate forms of loyalty points. Many of us envy their ‘practically free’ vacations but we have no idea where to begin to navigate the world of award travel, shopping portals, and travel hacking in general. So where do you start? With RewardExpert. The online resource helping users traverse the life of multiple credit cards and frequent flyer miles, provides easy to use resources, helping you save money and use the rewards programs in a defined and deliberate manner. Coming off of their recent relaunch, the company has improved the platform while adding even more resources to help you on your way.
AlleyWatch chatted with CEO and cofounder Roman Shteyn about the company and its future plans.
Tell us about the product or service.
RewardExpert helps users navigate the world of frequent flyer programs and credit card rewards. We provide smart tools and services that empower our users to make more rewarding decisions. Our company recently came out of beta with a web relaunch featuring a new line of free tools that simplify earning and spending rewards.
We now offer three primary features to our users:
RewardExpert® Travel – This intuitive metasearch engine enables users to easily filter and find award flights based on the often complex needs that arise in award travel. The tool is integrated with a flight-pricing API from Skyscanner, allowing for easy comparisons between cash prices versus reward costs.
RewardExpert® Shopping – Consumers are unaware they can earn up to 15X points by shopping through their reward program’s online portal. This tool helps users earn the most rewards while shopping at over 20,000 of their favorite stores.
RewardExpert® Trip – Current users are familiar with this tool as it previously operated as the sole function of RewardExpert. Under its new name, RewardExpert® Trip, users can continue to easily manage all of their reward programs via their RewardWallet and create customized strategies for redeeming award travel flights.
Additionally we have our Data Intelligence Center – A series of actionable, data-driven reports designed to help consumers make better personal finance and travel decisions as well as our Financial Product Reviews.
How is it different?
Our company is the only one on the market that guides users through every step of their rewards journey; from earning the most rewards in their everyday spending habits, to redeeming their miles and point in the most efficient way to earn cheap travel.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We are targeting consumers with credit card and travel rewards who are looking to get the most mileage out of them. We’re also reaching out to folks who are new to the rewards game to show them how they can more of the world for less. When added up, that’s a pretty big market!
What is the business model?
Our business model is structured off of making commissions based on financial and travel product recommendations for our users.
What inspired the business?
I have always been a travel junkie and loyalty program nerd; I love investigating the ins and outs of each program to uncover how we can get the best value out of each of them. I spent a good number of years “travel hacking” around the world, as did my cofounders. Our friends and family would constantly ask for us for advice so that they could get a taste of the travel hacking life. After seeing such a big information gap in an industry that so many people engage with, I was compelled to create a solution that will work for novices and pros alike, which lead to the launch of RewardExpert.
Does demystifying rewards reduce the fun associated with collecting points?
Not at all! While our tools significantly reduce the research, redemption, and reward management components of travel hacking, users still are very much engaged in the process. In fact, we feel our tools and services help users focus on the fun aspects of collecting and cashing in rewards, while we handle all the dirty work!
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Coming out of our relaunch, our goal is to increase the organic traffic to our website in order to continue growing our user base.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
We would have benefitted from advice regarding resource allocation. At the start, we invested many resources in creating a product with impeccable UI and design. We optimized our service to offer an intuitive and user-friendly experience. While this was certainly beneficial, we should have invested more of our resources in developing other components of our business.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of VaynerMedia. I’d like to pick his brain about growing a business and learn more about his entrepreneurial skills.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York has access to an unmatched network of professionals in the travel and finance communities; the intersection in which RewardExpert operates. Additionally, we have access to top talent in a compact area, which has been essential for building our business.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?
The Gansevoort Park Hotel rooftop bar.