Button Wants To Bring Loyalty Rewards To The On-Demand Economy

Imagine you’re an executive running a multi-billion-dollar e-commerce business and you have figured out ways to keep customers on your site and prompt them to make purchases a couple of times a year. Now imagine if you could bring those same tools to businesses that have monthly, weekly, or even daily transactions from customers to boost usage even further.

In a sense that’s what Michael Jaconi, co-founder and CEO of a new startup called Button, hopes to do.

Jaconi served as executive officer of Rakuten, where he was tasked with boosting engagement and conversions at the Japanese e-commerce giant. He came to Rakuten through its acquisition of his company FreeCause in 2011, and afterward applied its rewards and loyalty technology to the broader company’s business.

Rewards and loyalty programs have traditionally done a decent job in the old e-commerce regime, but he sees a bigger opportunity in the mobile-led on-demand economy. In part that opportunity is driven by much higher transaction rates than most e-commerce sites ever see.

“In the e-commerce world, you see purchase rates of once or twice a year in some cases,” Jaconi said. That, by itself, limits the opportunity for growth. But when you look at what’s happening in the on-demand world, you see users returning to apps multiple times a month.

Still, he believes those companies can do more to acquire, activate and retain users. They could more efficiently attain users and tweak things to increase the average lifetime value of their customers. So he assembled a team with experience in mobile payments, rewards, and user acquisition to create a platform for driving engagement in the on-demand world.

In addition to Jaconi, the Button team includes former Google Wallet and BrainTree/Venmo exec Mike Dudas, former Venmo mobile head Chris Maddern, ex-Rocket Internet exec and Lazada GM Tanner Hackett, former AKQA engineer Siddhartha Dabral, and finance guy Stephen Milbank.

The team has raised $2.25 million in seed funding led by Atlas Venture, with participation from DCM, Greycroft Partners, Mesa+, and VaynerRSE. Angel investors include Pinterest product head Tim Kendall, former Venrock partner Ray Rothrock, Webs.com co-founder Haroon Mokhtarzada, former Buy.com CEO Neel Grover, About.com founder Scott Kurnit, SessionM co-founder Lars Albright, and former Expedia Partner Services Group president Gary Fritz.

With that funding, the team hopes to bring new cloud-based tools to mobile app makers that reward users for engaging in apps that they’re already using. Furthermore, with the introduction of “extensions” in iOS 8, there’s an opportunity for Button to facilitate cross-promotion between non-competitive services.

In doing so, Jaconi thinks companies can further accelerate growth of the on-demand sector, in general. And he wants Button to be at the center of it all.