As any legendary tale begins, it started out like any other ordinary day. Victor Ho walked into his empty apartment with nothing but a few boxes. This is where he would eventually run daily operations for his newly founded startup, FiveStars Loyalty. Yep, that’s us. He was greeted with a blank stare from the bare white walls, and that’s when it actually hit him. He remembers thinking, ‘Well. Here we go…’
After the six-hour drive up from Los Angeles in the wee hours of the morning, Victor had arrived to his new home in the heart of Silicon Valley.
“The very next day, I sat on my couch and started coding the beginnings of the FiveStars platform.”
Over the course of a year and a half, Victor and this amazing team, that we are all so grateful to be a part of, have been able to build FiveStars into an emerging tech giant that has taken the customer loyalty industry by storm.
When asked about FiveStars’ sky rocketing success, our co-founder Matt Doka chuckles.
“I thought this adventure would maybe last about two years, well, that was what I had committed to. I imagined that we may or may not come up with some great idea, work out of our garage and enjoy a lifestyle improvement, learn a lot about software engineering and the technology world… It definitely turned out way better than that.”
Originally from California and Texas, our superhero founders met and became friends while working at McKinsey & Company, a large consulting firm in New York.
“We were both in a corporate finance group at McKinsey, so early on we had a lot of events together, which is how we originally met. As time went on, between leading our small fellowship group and having startup brainstorming sessions, we decided to really pursue the idea of starting our own company and began meeting once or twice a week just putting together our ideas.”
While at McKinsey, the young entrepreneurs worked within a wide variety of industries, and Matt was always looking out for different opportunities for innovation.
“Most people our age in general aren’t able to get these ‘inside looks’ at multiple Fortune 500 companies, so I had that goal in mind, to keep my eyes open for problems that needed to be solved and come up with creative ways to solve those problems.”
Many of the companies they encountered either ran loyalty programs for their customers or they were looking to start one, but most of these programs just weren’t cutting it.
“Everyone is burnt out on the daily deal marketing programs and everyone is moving to loyalty. But the options that were available never had it all. Email and text message campaigns, social media and point-of-sale integration; we wanted to create something that combined all the options into one universal system, so that’s what we did.”
In just one year, more than 800 businesses use FiveStars as their premium loyalty service, there are over a quarter of a million people who have a FiveStars account, and both of these numbers are growing fast. Pretty incredible for being in business just over a year.
No longer crammed in the co-founding duo’s apartment, the company now has about 50 employees all of whom Matt considers family. Aw… we love you too Matt!
“Loyalty is a very competitive space and it can be tough at times, but we all look out for each other. We really want to make it all work, which makes it a lot of fun, and makes FiveStars feel like it’s a worth while place to be.”
Victor credits his team’s loyalty (how perfect) to FiveStars continued success.
“I think the best companies have people who aren’t just smart or hard working, although we clearly have both, they also have people who are really committed to each other. Otherwise, in the inevitable roller coaster that every startup is, you start losing passengers unless they are all super loyal to each other. We’ve just had a really strong team that has stuck together through the slow months and the celebratory months. The result is that we have made it to our next milestone.”
Our milestone is a record breaking one. In July, we secured our Series A round of funding (details to come)!
“I’m 100% convinced that what’s going to be the difference between this milestone and the next milestone that we will go through is going to be the exact same thing, loyalty and dedication from the same group and having that affect the new people that we bring on as well. We’re all really excited about what’s ahead of us. Should be a lot of fun.”
So thank you so much to all of you who have helped us become the young company that we are. We raise our glasses and toast to the next great FiveStars adventure! National expansion here we come!
Angela is a part of the Operations Team at FiveStars. When she’s not making sure all of our clients are 100% happy with us, she can be found daydreaming about Texas while listening to country music, hanging out with her dog Cooper, or planning her next adventure with a man we like to call Prilz. Chat with her via Twitter at @angelarenee09!