Loyalty Startup Belly Hits 1 Millionth Check-In; Active Merchants Say Belly Check-ins Top Foursquare

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Belly, the Chicago-based loyalty platform which just closed its $10 million Series B from Andreessen Horowitz earlier this month, is today announcing a pretty significant milestone: its 1 millionth check-in. The startup allows customers to check-in to a location using a physical loyalty card or mobile app which they scan via a consumer-facing iPad installed at point-of-sale. By doing so, customers collect points that can later be redeemed for unique rewards tailored specifically for the business in question.

The company has been growing fast, and CEO Logan LaHive tells us that in some of Belly’s locations, there have been more Belly check-ins within its first month of being up-and-running, than the total number of Foursquare check-ins the business has seen to date.

“I’m not here to make outlandish statements,” says LaHive, referring to this impressive metric. “Some stores are more active and engaged than others, so it would be ridiculous for me to say 100% of locations. But in our active locations, they’re surpassing all-time Foursquare check-ins in their first month.”

For those unfamiliar with Belly’s operations, the now 50 plus-person team works with each business to develop custom and unique digital loyalty programs for retailers’ stores. Merchants pay a monthly subscription, and Belly provides an iPad, physical cards and key chain tags, the consumer-facing mobile apps, marketing materials, and a backend analytics system. For consumers, the idea is that Belly could eventually grow large enough to replace all the different loyalty cards cluttering up customers’ wallets.

Given that the startup works directly with the businesses in question, very much one-on-one, some may wonder if Belly is hard to scale.

“That’s a question we hear often, particularly from folks out in the Valley,” says LaHive. “Look, loyalty in general is not a new concept. There are a lot of competitors out there in the space trying to build an app with three guys in a garage and trying to scale it to all small business owners. But we’ve found that’s not the way this business works,” he says.  “Loyalty is successful when it’s built on relationships. In order for us to really build and sustain that with a business over time, it takes a hands-on approach. We’re building and staffing a team that can support that.”

The company is currently up-and-running in 1,500 locations across the U.S., including recently added markets of New York and Boston, plus Chicago, Austin, Madison, Milwaukee, D.C., Phoenix and Miami. LaHive says that they’re growing at a rate of about 100 locations per week.

While some new startups are hesitant to reveal their metrics early on, Belly gladly shares practically everything they have on file. The company’s over 200,000 users are delivering 10,000 check-ins on average per day. A third of Belly’s users check in to more than one business, 55% have checked in more than once, and 22% have checked in more than five times.

It took Belly 166 days to reach its first 100,000 check-ins, 27 more days to reach 200,000, and is now seeing around 100,000 check-ins every eight days. Around 2,000 to 3,000 new users are added per day to the service, and customers have redeemed over 14,000 rewards since the company’s launch in August 2011.

Belly has nearly $13 million in total funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Lightbank, and others. The company is now working to transition to HTML5 for its apps, and is planning aggressive expansions to new markets, thanks to the recent infusion of capital.