With growth of gas station rewards program, GetUpside adds grocery stores and restaurants - Technical.ly DC


With growth of gas station rewards program, GetUpside adds grocery stores and restaurants

The D.C. startup's app offering cash back on purchases is now being used in 29 cities.

GetUpside CEO Alex Kinnier and COO Wayne Lin.

(Courtesy photo)

This story was updated at 1:40 p.m., 11/28/18.

With its app offering rewards on purchases, GetUpside is offering promotions at gas stations around the country, said COO Wayne Lin. The D.C. startup is available at gas stations in 29 cities in 13 states.

The company partners with local businesses to offer deals through the app, functioning as a marketing campaign. Through the promotions, the app provides cash back on a purchase that can then be cashed out through PayPal or digital gift cards. Now, the app is at more than 5,000 locations. Lin said the startup provided $6.9 million in savings through its deals, and has 1 million registered users. Along with expanding to new cities, some of the growth has been within cities where it’s already offered. In Baltimore, for instance, it’s added about 100 gas stations in a year.

With the growth in that area, the company is also expanding its offering to restaurants and grocery stores. That side of the service initially rolled out in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, including Baltimore, and Lin said the startup is working to sign up additional businesses in cities where it offers the gas station deals. While the startup’s model with gas stations is built around offering it to one business in a cluster, the same kind of exclusivity doesn’t apply to the food-oriented businesses, Lin said.


The startup always intended to expand into other kinds of businesses, Lin said, as the overall goal is to provide a way for everyday merchants to offer the kinds of services that other retailers could take on. One part of the model comes down to offering notable deals – the company says it offers up to 25 cents per gallon of gas, up to 35 percent at restaurants and up to 15 percent at grocery stores. Along with the cash back, Lin said the app is also designed to find what kinds of deals users prefer, which can enable larger discounts. “The core of our system is all around digital personalization,” he said. The startup can also offer data that shows measurable profit to the stores, he said.

GetUpside makes money based on the performance of its app. “We only get paid when we show the merchant that we brought them profit,” Lin said.

The three-year-old company was founded by Lin and CEO Alex Kinnier, who previously worked together at D.C.’s Opower, which was acquired by Oracle for $532 million, and in roles at Google. Along with the expansion, the startup also made changes to its name. Upside was the original name. GetUpside makes it distinct from D.C. startup Upside Travel, and, Lin said, was designed to offer “a more action-oriented name.”

With the growth, the company is also adding to its team. Lin said the 40-person team is on its fourth WeWork office as it grew from about a dozen employees over the last year. It’s now located at the space near 6th St. NW and H. Going forward, the company will be looking to hire in D.C. as it expands to more cities.

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