E-commerce startup Lolli, which gives shoppers bitcoin rewards for online purchases at retailers like Sephora, just attracted investment from the YouTube beauty queen herself, Michelle Phan.
The $3 million seed round with Phan and Ashton Kutcher’s VC firm, Sound Ventures, marks roughly $5.4 million in total capital raised by Lolli so far. Pathfinder, the early-stage investment arm of Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, led this recent round with participation from Bain Capital Ventures, Craft Ventures and Digital Currency Group, CoinDesk’s parent company.
“We have an incredible syndicate of strategic investors that will help drive the adoption of Lolli and bitcoin forward,” Lolli CEO Alex Adelman said in a press statement.
As of this week, Phan’s fans can use Lolli to earn bitcoin rewards when shopping directly on her Em Cosmetics website. Adelman said the funding will be used to launch Lolli’s mobile app this summer and expand the company internationally throughout 2020.
The e-commerce landscape has shifted dramatically since Lolli launched in 2018. In short, people are shopping more online and managing their money through apps. For example, Shopify revenues reportedly jumped 47% in Q1 2020 and Square, a fintech app that also offers bitcoin, is participating in mainstream programs like the U.S. government’s emergency Paycheck Protection Program. This means it’s easier than ever for people to earn and spend a variety of currencies from home.
From Adelman’s perspective, Square’s patent for converting fiat-to-crypto is a “game-changer” for the retail industry.
“It’s arguably the most important patent in the payments space that will affect cryptocurrency over the next 10 years,” Adelman said. “It’s an air-swap where someone can pay with whatever currency they want and also the merchant can accept whatever currency they want.”
This relates to Lolli because the startup’s primary business partners are retailers and merchants looking for shoppers to come directly to homepages instead of Amazon. For example, Em Cosmetics fans can earn bitcoin by shopping on the homepage and learn about it through the brand’s social media channels. People looking to liquidate those earnings can easily do so with mainstream apps like Cash App or Strike, even if they’re not interested in using an exchange account.
“Bitcoin is going to have a huge impact on everything,” Phan said. “I’m thrilled to work with Lolli to help educate and bring Bitcoin to the masses.”