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Madison's Fetch Rewards snags unicorn status after $210M investment round
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Fetch Rewards | $1B Valuation

Madison's Fetch Rewards snags unicorn status after $210M investment round

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Fetch Rewards

Kumiko Love, a blogger and Instagram user who posts about budgeting, uses the Fetch Rewards app while shopping to identify products that will earn her reward points that can be exchanged for gift cards.

Madison-based Fetch Rewards became something rare this year: a unicorn.

Unicorn companies are startups that reach the statistically rare mark of being valued at $1 billion, which the consumer rewards app did last month when it closed a $210 million equity investment round.

“It just validates that what we’re doing is very exciting,” Fetch CEO and founder Wes Schroll said. “There’s still so much upside in where we’re going.”

Kennedy and Schroll

Tyler Kennedy, left, and Wes Schroll founded Fetch Rewards in Madison in 2013.

Users of Fetch Rewards, founded in 2013 by UW-Madison students Schroll and Tyler Kennedy, scan shopping receipts and earn points based on the items purchased. Those points are then converted into different redeemable rewards, including gift certificates, contest entries or even charitable donations.

2 Madison-based startup founders named to Forbes 30 Under 30

Fetch Rewards contracts with brands including Unilever, General Mills and Molson Coors to provide the rewards to shoppers who buy those products.

“The app is all about rewarding you for the living you’re already doing,” Schroll said. “We don’t really care about what you do with your points, we just want you to find something that’s valuable to you that you feel excited about and that you feel is a good reward for yourself.”

Venture capital firms contacted Fetch Rewards about investing after the app spent about one week on the top of the list of most-downloaded free apps in Apple’s App Store — above others including YouTube and TikTok — in December, Schroll said.

Global venture capital giant SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 invested the most money into Fetch Rewards this round. SoftBank’s original Vision Fund invested in companies including DoorDash, Slack, Uber and WeWork.

“We believe Fetch Rewards’ platform delivers a great experience for consumers by rewarding them for their loyalty to their favorite brands,” SoftBank Investment Advisers partner Tom Cheung said in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with Wes and the team as they continue to innovate, scale and expand into new markets.”

Schroll said Fetch Rewards was excited about the investment because SoftBank would challenge the company to think beyond its current focus and push growth.

Placing at No. 116 on Inc. Magazine’s 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., Fetch Rewards has significantly grown its staff and user base in the past few years.

In 2019, when the company first hit 1 million regular users, about 100 employees worked for Fetch Rewards. Now, with about 7 million regular users, nearly 450 employees work for the startup, Schroll said.

Fetch Rewards exchanges receipt photos for rewards points, gift cards

About 200 more employees could be hired this year, Schroll said.

The most recent funding round brought Fetch Rewards’ total amount raised since founding to $318 million.

Fetch Rewards will use that funding to expand beyond rewards for just grocery store items into other retail brands and potentially other consumer businesses, such as restaurants, Schroll said.

Shopping app Fetch Rewards to double staff after raising $25 million

Shining stars: Meet the Madison area's Top Workplaces

Make no mistake about it: The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have left painful scars. But this year’s Top Workplaces project shows that many employees across the Madison region remain resiliently upbeat and are clinging to their workplace cultures, even from a distance.

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Celebrate the best of Madison’s local employers and hear top executives explain how they create and maintain their cultures of growth.

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This year’s winners run the gamut from dentistry to financial institutions and engineering to software developers and many more.

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Survey feedback from employees is the sole basis for determining Top Workplaces. And that feedback serves as the ultimate test of how employers are responding in the age of COVID.

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This year’s top-ranked large organization, with about 590 Madison-area employees, UW Credit Union has made diversity a priority during the past few years. 

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Exact Sciences, which rose from a small operation to a growing force in cancer diagnostics, thrives on a workplace culture fueled by innovation, teamwork and a common enemy.

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Teamwork, problem-solving and helping agents find success — however they measure it — drive the workplace culture at First Weber Realtors.

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Everyone wants their pre-pandemic lives back, but the crisis revealed the value of Summit Credit Union’s strong culture.

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The ability of Kwik Trip employees to manage change was important to the convenience store chain’s success during the past year, as it expanded, rolled out new product offerings and dealt with COVID-19.

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Here are the other top-ranked large firms in Top Workplaces 2021, rounding out a diverse mix of some of the area’s bigger employers and featuring a range of benefits that employees are able to tap into.

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The Madison-based firm, which develops mass notification software to alert employees at schools, government office and businesses to emergency situations, strives to understand what drives high job satisfaction among its employees.

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WPPI Energy president and CEO Mike Peters says communication is vital to the success of the Sun Prairie-based, member-owned operation that serves 51 local electric utilities with wholesale electric power supply, utility technologies and services.

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Employees at Madison-based Ascendium Education Group have adopted the values and mission of the organization and appreciate the training that keeps them on the cutting edge.

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Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation values humility and customer service in a culture that has buy-in from CEO Steve Jacobson to the newe…

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The disruption and chaos inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic tested the stability of First Choice Dental’s workplace culture.

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The Top Workplaces winners among midsize companies reflect innovative styles to building corporate cultures that their employees embrace. Here’s a look at the other winners in the mid-size category:

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When the pandemic arrived, Horizon Develop Build Manage president and CEO Dan Fitzgerald was certain of one thing: His employee culture, built purposefully and over time, would carry the company through all of the disruption.

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When Jack Koziol started InfoSec Institute in Madison in 2004, he felt that workplace culture was nothing more than a corporate buzzword. Seventeen years later, he knows better.

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In the past chaos-packed year, revenues dipped for the downtown advertising, design and digital agency — a result of the economic mess created by the pandemic — and the agency had its first layoffs in 20 years, while its staff was scattered to complete work remotely.

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Being successful in providing customers with information technology solutions and services starts with a family-centered culture based on fun, gratitude and expertise at AE Business Solutions.

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The Sun Prairie-based company, which specializes in servicing and supplying components for heavy-duty, off-highway equipment through 10 service centers in the U.S. and Canada, strives for transparency.

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Although winners in the small-company category reflect a variety of missions, they share a common characteristic: They have built strong workplaces that provide stand-out benefits and flexibility. Here are the other winners in the small-company category:

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Among this year’s Top Workplaces, employees singled out several companies for their extraordinary efforts in important phases of workplace life, ranging from leadership to transparency.

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Businesses that suddenly found themselves in the midst of a pandemic that shattered conventional ways of working quickly discovered that a strong workplace culture was vital to surviving and thriving during the crisis.

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We have no idea what the extent of these changes will be or whether this whole notion of “normal” will ever find itself back into our lives.

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Jim Nussle, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association, spoke about what makes CUNA’s culture special.

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Kathy Marsh, co-founder and vice chair of Musicnotes, shares her thoughts on the workplace culture at the Madison-based digital sheet music retailer.

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Larry Barton, chief executive officer of Strang, talks about creating a strong culture at the Madison-based firm. 

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To become a Top Workplace, organizations instill in their team members a variety of values and approaches that keep their businesses thriving in the marketplace, their employees engaged and their communities strong.

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