Promising Cash for Consumers, Startup Dosh Plans Break Out of Beta

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a slew of new hires, including executives from Amazon, payments processor First Data, and another “social” company that offers perks and commissions to users who sell its products to friend, family, and acquaintances, Stella & Dot.

Wuerch contends that there’s high demand for his service, noting that he believes the company can convert around $2 billion of the billions spent on advertising and coupons by merchants and brands to his service during the next two years. He says Dosh has signed up 100,000 already.

The companies that sign up also get an analytics platform, allowing them to study trends in users’ behavior, direct specific marketing campaigns to certain users, and other services. A gas station that notices a customer used a 10-cent per gallon discount could then offer that person another one after four more fill-ups, Wuerch says.

The company’s technology also makes it stand out, Wuerch says. It has algorithms and application programming interfaces that connect to payment processors, credit card companies like Visa and American Express, directly with merchants, and with brands, which match the deals that are available with the user’s card when it is swiped, Wuerch says. Users can send the “rewards” to a checking account or other services, such as PayPal.

Wuerch says he is working with multiple large brands that are helping the company push the app out to their customers. He is waiting until a later date to announce who those brands are, as well as the names of the investors who supplied the $6 million in funding. And he believes that users will lap up the offers of money, comparing consumers’ reactions to Pavlov’s dogs.

“Since we’re kids, we were all raised to know that cash, money is a positive stimulus,” he says. “We built everything on Pavlovian theory of stimulus response.”

Before Solavei, Wuerch had attracted some big backers to another company he founded in the early 2000s called Motricity. Based in Durham, NC, and later relocated to Bellevue, the company was backed by more than $400 million in venture funding from Carl Icahn, Technology Crossover Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Advanced Equities, Intel Capital, among others, before it went public with a $50 million IPO in 2010. That number was substantially down from its original estimate of $250 million.

Motricity sold software that helped mobile carriers interact with consumers on mobile phones over the Internet. It had sales troubles in 2011, Wuerch left, and the company eventually reorganized to become a part of another company. Investor lawsuits have followed Motricity as recently as last year.

At Dosh—a name that Wuerch says refers to a European term for money and is also defined as “cash” in Urban Dictionary—newly named CTO Moshe Joshua is also readying the company to eventually operate its service using blockchain technology, shared databases that act as public ledgers, to better connect to other services worldwide. It’s not there yet, he says.

“The key thing for us is being successful at moving billions of dollars to people’s wallets,” Joshua says.

That doesn’t mean Dosh is a bank—a four-letter word, Joshua says. He says Dosh isn’t watching over money for its customers as a custodian like a bank might. Instead, Dosh is helping users get “found” money, Joshua says. The prices consumers see on Dosh for services like hotels and airlines are always $1 or $2 cheaper than what can be found on other travel websites, Wuerch alleges, something he says is due to an algorithm the company wrote.

“This is like walking down the street, and there’s a $20 bill laying there and no one’s around,” Wuerch says. “Most times, you’re not going to step over and keep walking. You’re going to pick up the $20 bill.”

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David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at [email protected] Follow @xconholley

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