Co-founder Rodrigo Rodas is also a managing partner of IDC Ventures
By Riley Kaminer
From airline miles to hotel loyalty programs to credit card points, the opportunity to collect rewards for spending money has never been greater. But in this context of ‘points galore,’ how do you actually spend them in a way that maximizes their value?
This is a question that Rodrigo Rodas [pictured above] spends a lot of time thinking about. “There are $300 billion worth of rewards outstanding,” he told Refresh Miami. “It’s crazy. People talk about new technologies like crypto, but these are rewards that you can actually redeem and use.”
In the US context, redeeming points is a bit of a headache – but still somewhat manageable. But in Latin America, taking advantage of your rewards to purchase goods that you actually want is close to impossible.
That’s why last year, Rodas teamed up with serial entrepreneur and e-commerce veteran Diego Fernandez to build Rewardsweb. The Miami-based startup enables Latin American users to leverage their loyalty points to purchase goods on websites such as Amazon and Mercado Libre, right from their browser.
Apart from the clear value for consumers – converting points into the products they crave – Rodas explained that there is also a significant value to the points provisioners like airlines as well.
“When they can use your rewards in many places, customers perceive that your loyalty program has a higher value,” he asserted. In turn, this can create a positive cycle of even more loyal customers. Rewardsweb also promotes deeper connections between points provisioners and brands by offering promotions whereby points can be worth more if spent at a specific store.
Key for Rodas and team was making the user experience as straightforward as possible. Users download the browser extension, connect it to their rewards points, and can shop normally. Then, once they’re ready to pay, an option to use their points appears on the side of the screen.
Rewardsweb has raised around $4 million in external funding and has 32 employees who are spread across Miami and Latin America. Last month, the startup inked a deal with LATAM airlines to offer rewards from their LATAM Pass program to users.
On top of his position as a co-founder of Rewardsweb, Rodas is a Managing Partner at Copenhagen-based investment firm IDC Ventures. For Rodas, having one foot in the investment world and another in the startup scene makes him better at both.
“Being on both sides definitely helps you keep your feet on the ground and makes you a lot more skeptical,” he said. His key to startup success? “Approach your business like you’re going to run it for the next 100 years.” That helps founders avoid alluring but ultimately distracting pursuits like constantly fundraising or over expanding the scope of your business.
In his native Guatemala, Rodas was the CEO of various prominent firms, including energy technology firm Energía y Renovación and digital marketplace Guateprenda. He’s now deeply entrenched in the Miami tech ecosystem, where he’s lived for three years, and sits on the board of Miami-based startups NovoPayment and Taxfyle.
While Rodas is ultimately bullish on #MiamiTech, he expressed a desire for our city to continue building its talent base. “I think the missing ingredient in Miami is just how do I get the best talent?”
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