What two things do Ganesha Indian Cuisine on 1074 Kiely Boulevard, Cartridge World on 3973 Stevens Creek Boulevard, and Cramer’s Bagels on 495 El Camino Real have in common? Number one, they’re businesses based in Santa Clara. Number two, these businesses are enrolled in FiveStars’ customer rewards program. Having launched last summer in Silicon Valley, FiveStars is an up-and-coming player in the growing business promotion industry.
“We strive to build permanent relationships between ourselves and the businesses that we work with,” says Matthew Doka, chief of product development at FiveStars. “We also want to make people’s lives simpler. You probably have a bunch of rewards cards stacked up somewhere. It’s hard to keep track of all the rewards cards we consolidate. With FiveStars, we consolidate business rewards into one card.”
A customer visiting a business enrolled in the FiveStars program can collect points towards a reward through FiveStars’ tracking system. For example, a customer enrolled in Ganesha Indian’s Cuisine’s FiveStars program can earn one free lunch buffet after six restaurant visits.
Victor Ho, CEO of FiveStars, strives to make economical management decisions to keep the enrollment cost accessible to the small businesses the company serves.
“We currently charge [a very minimal fee] to enroll businesses in the program,” says Ho. “The majority of our businesses are small mom and pop businesses because they don’t have the technology to offer big-scale rewards programs. The Verde Tea Café in Cupertino enrolled 6,000 customers in our rewards program in three months. In those three months, the customers in our program spent $200,000 at the business.”
As FiveStars’ roster of clients expands in Santa Clara, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Jose, the company is also offering its clients assistance with promoting their businesses through social media, another growing business industry.
“We manage our clients’ social media promotions,” Doka says.
“Social media, like Facebook, is very powerful and can unlock a lot of potential for a business,” Ho adds.
Ho, who was born and raised in Cerritos, California, attended the University of California at Berkeley where he studied business and industrial engineering. Doka, who was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he studied finance and material science engineering. Ho and Doka met while they were working at McKinsey & Company.
“Matt and I originally worked in finance,” Ho says. “We worked in lucrative jobs. But we quit our jobs to start this.”
Though Ho and Doka recognize they are starting a business during an unpredictable economic time, they are optimistic about the future of FiveStars. They foresee FiveStars being a national company in five years.
“The only competitors we have right now are old school punch cards,” Ho says. “We also have the same VCs and investors who back Facebook and Google.”
“Given the [economic] downturn, this is an especially good time to help small businesses, when we can be the most useful,” Doka says. “There’s a lot of potential to turn places around. Silicon Valley is a hub for entrepreneurship.”
Visit www.fivestarscard.com for more information about enrolling a business and to learn about participating businesses near you.