‘All Things Upside’ with Alex Kinnier

As we jump into 2022 and continue on our journey to becoming the digital layer transforming brick and mortar commerce, we checked in with our fearless leader, Upside co-founder and CEO Alex Kinnier, to get his thoughts on the path ahead.

Q: What sort of growth did Upside experience in 2021?

A: The need for our services has never been greater. We see that in our proven impact on the people and businesses in our communities, in our growth, and in the performance of our business. The last 12 months have been remarkable; we’re extremely proud of the impact we’re making on the world. As a team, we’ve:

  • Driven $150M in cash back to users and $300M in incremental profit to merchants 
  • Added 15,000 restaurants and 375 grocery stores to the platform 
  • Begun distributing our content natively within partner apps (like Lyft!) 
  • Thoughtfully and deliberately grown our team to 250 people 
  • Expanded into new offices in Austin and Chicago, when hybrid work was possible (though optional!) 
  • Went public with our 1% commitment, having offset nearly 2 million metric tons of CO2 from gallons sold through the platform and rescuing 63,000 pounds of food to date. 

Today consumers are feeling the effects of inflation as gas prices peak and general consumables–like food–become more expensive. At the same time, the underlying forces squeezing consumers are also impacting brick and mortar retailers. 

Unfortunately, most consumers and brick and mortar merchants have not been able to get the most value out of everyday commerce – because the offline world is inefficient. Twenty-five years ago Google and Amazon solved this problem online by leveraging user-level historical data to optimally personalize each interaction and prove the incremental impact made on each transaction. Today Upside is using this power to transform physical commerce. And it’s working. Merchants earn more proven profit and, simultaneously, consumers gain purchasing power.

This work supports our communities for today and tomorrow. Every transaction through Upside benefits the world at large, offsetting carbon so that local communities thrive for years to come. Since our inception in 2016, Upside has committed 1% of all revenue to sustainability initiatives related to our areas of operation, offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline sold through the platform, and rescuing food sold through the platform. As our sustainability efforts expand, we are building a broader sustainability program beyond carbon offsetting, including investing in emerging carbon removal technologies, supporting local food rescue initiatives to decrease hunger and food waste, and building features directly into the Upside platform to empower users to get involved.

Q: Talk to us about the recent partnerships with both Lyft and Uber and the benefits they bring to rideshare drivers?

A: Gig economy drivers have really kept our communities moving throughout the pandemic. They’re driving as much as 75-100 miles per day, eating quick meals and snacks while on the go, and often paying out-of-pocket. Today those drivers feel the effects of inflation even more keenly than ever, as gas prices peak and general consumables are more expensive. We’re proud to help ease the burden for drivers. 

We’re very excited about our rideshare partnerships. Now drivers with Uber and with Lyft can open the driver app to see participating stations with great cashback offers near them, navigate to the station of their choice, and recieve cash back offers right in the app. Making our content available within partner apps like Uber and Lyft is exactly aligned with our mission to make consumers and businesses stronger so our communities thrive. 

At no additional cost to their business, merchants are gaining access to more consumers than ever before. Users in Upside’s fast-growing network are being driven to participating locations, maximizing merchants’ profit. Meanwhile, Upside offers are meeting consumers wherever they are. Whether they are using Upside, Lyft, Uber, GasBuddy, Current Bank, or another app, consumers are able to take advantage of our offers to get more value from their everyday purchases. 

The Upside Partner Platform is available to any business interested in providing personalized offers in their own mobile apps or digital customer touch points—from large consumer brands to small independent businesses.

Q: Where are you focusing your hiring efforts?

A: We’re hiring everywhere, and for all types of positions — software engineers, operations analysts, marketing experts, sales representatives, and more. The demand for our product has never been greater, and we’re growing the team to meet that demand. 

As always, we’re building our organization thoughtfully and deliberately. We publish information about “who we are” on our corporate website, to be as transparent as possible about our organization as we continue to do the hard work to build a rich, diverse team.  

The hiring we do today will enable us to continue to grow for years to come. Upside is helping people and businesses as we weather the COVID-19 storm. In the future when consumers are able to go to brick and mortar establishments without risking their health and businesses are able to function as-usual, Upside’s product offering will be even more important.

Q: What's next for Upside? 

A: There is much to be done to make physical commerce more efficient and help our communities thrive again. We are always working to add more users and businesses to the platform. In 2022, we plan to begin our international fuel footprint and expand our U.S. offerings beyond restaurants, and grocery stores. Our team is working on a number of new partnerships that we’re excited to share soon, and we’re working to expand our sustainability efforts – in terms of our contribution and also within our product. 

So be on the lookout for more Upside news soon! 

I couldn’t be more proud of the results we have driven to date, and I couldn’t be more excited about the path ahead.