Mastering the Rewards Game with Kudos

Credit card rewards represent a global phenomenon played by hundreds of millions of consumers daily. 77% of U.S. adults have at least one credit card, with the average American holding 3.84 cards. It’s also a booming segment – a recent CFPB report found that consumers earned $40bn in credit card rewards in 2022, a 50% increase over the amount from 3 years prior. The allure of earning a free first-class round-trip ticket, a luxurious five-star hotel stay, or maximizing cash back on every purchase has captivated consumers worldwide, turning it into a passionate pursuit for many.

However, the complexity of mastering credit card rewards is significant. Major players like Nerdwallet ($600M annual revenue, $2B IPO) and The Points Guy have emerged to educate consumers, but real-time, point-of-sale assistance remains limited. Enter Kudos.

At Patron, we believe the future of the internet should work harder for consumers, making online shopping smarter and more rewarding. Over the past decade, tools like The Points Guy and Nerdwallet have informed consumers about which credit cards to use, and Honey has ensured that shopping carts have the best coupon codes. Yet, the overall shopping experience remains confusing. Platforms like Shopify have made it easier to create online storefronts and ship globally, but the optimization of rewards at the point of purchase has been lacking.

We were thrilled to meet Tikue and Ahmad, two senior product managers with extensive experiences across Google Pay, Affirm, and technical backgrounds in AI/ML. They identified a unique opportunity in the rewards space and shared our vision of transforming it into a massive opportunity based on popular consumer behavior. Together, they are building Kudos, an always-on, AI-powered smart wallet designed to maximize consumer rewards, benefits, and cash back on every purchase. Kudos analyzes your purchase history and patterns to recommend the best card, even if it’s not already in your wallet.

As Kudos’ earliest investor, we were impressed by their focus on creating a sophisticated yet accessible product for a passionate community of credit card optimizers. With Kudos, shoppers no longer need to hunt down rewards tips, signup and conversion bonuses, or redemption hacks. Kudos has the information and algorithms to ensure the right offer reaches the right shopper at the right time. By doing so, Kudos avoids the common pitfall of high customer acquisition costs that many consumer finance startups face. By integrating into early adopter communities on platforms like Reddit and TikTok, Kudos built a product that users could easily share with their networks.

We are incredibly proud to double down on our initial investment in Kudos, joining one of the best fintech VC leads in QED and Amias Gerety. The Series A round quickly became oversubscribed to $10.2M, and includes The Points Guy founder Brian Kelly, Samsung Next, SV Angel, and Precursor Ventures.

This new round follows exceptional growth to over 200,000 registered users – the vast majority of them being organic, 15,000+ partner brands and retailers, generating an annualized checkout GMV of $200 million. The product has become an essential shopping tool, with over 90% of activated users continuing to use it after 30 days. They’ve also built one of the most impressive technical and product teams in their category with engineering/product hires across Honey, PayPal, and Google. Lastly, Kudos was most recently recognized by Forbes as one of only six consumer companies on its list of the 50 most innovative companies in Fintech, a notable achievement given their earlier stage compared to other listed companies, which have mostly raised over $100 million.

With fresh capital, Kudos will double down on the team’s deep AI/ML domain expertise to further advance their AI smart wallet . This new phase will see Kudos deepen its market impact, ensuring every consumer has the right credit cards and is on the path to winning the credit card rewards game. We’re excited to continue supporting them, alongside all their incredible partners.

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