George Bousis is founder and CEO of Raise, launched as an online marketplace where people buy and sell unused gift cards.
In September 2017, Raise announced that it had received $60 million in new funding from investors including PayPal, bringing its total funding to $147 million. The company said it would use the money to fuel its newer focus on being a mobile payments platform working directly with retailers.
“We want to expand on the opportunity around using Raise as a mobile wallet to pay for everything anywhere you go, saving money on everyday purchases,” Bousis said.
For retailers, the new platform gives them a way to drive loyalty, attract new customers and retain them “in a very simple offering that scales well,” said Bousis. Instead of competing with rival gift card exchanges like CardPool and CardCash, Raise now hopes to compete with the likes of Apple, Google Wallet and bank cards.
Chicago tech leader Mark Tebbe joined Raise’s board along with the 2017 round but is not an investor.
Launched in 2013, the company raised $81 million in just over a year, making it one of the most heavily financed Chicago startups. By 2015, the company was valued at $615 million. A key growth point was the creation of a mobile app in late 2014 that allows users to buy cards and immediately use them from their phones. Bousis’ oft-used example was a user waiting in line at a store, buying a gift card for that store using the mobile app, then stepping up to the register and using that card.
New Enterprise Associates is among its investors, with general partner Tony Florence on the Raise board of directors.
“It’s one of the fastest-growing companies I’ve ever seen,” Florence said. “And we think George Bousis is kind of a remarkable entrepreneur. He’s the kind of guy that, as an investor, you want to be aligned with.”
Bousis also founded CouponTrade, an electronic database of coupons. He has a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University.