This start-up backed by Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian gives users bitcoin rewards for their online purchases – CNBC

This start-up backed by Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian gives users bitcoin rewards for their online purchases – CNBC

Alex Adelman thinks your next e-tail purchase should earn you bitcoin.

Adelman, the co-founder and CEO of bitcoin rewards start-up Lolli, wants to reinvent the way consumers receive cash-back on their purchases by letting users get bitcoin as they shop online with partner brands like Nike and Sephora.

And Adelman has convinced some big names of his vision: On March 24, the company announced a $5 million pre-Series A funding round led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six venture capital fund, with Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures and a few famous YouTubers, including Cody Ko and Casey Neistat. With those funds, Lolli has raised over $10 million to date, Adelman tells CNBC Make It.

“I believe in everything about bitcoin,” Adelman says. “We want to make it as simple as possible for people to get bitcoin for their everyday purchases.”

Bullish on bitcoin

Adelman, 32, is no newbie to the online retail space.

In his first start-up, Cosmic, Adelman and his co-founder, Matt Senter, created e-commerce technology that let consumers buy products from multiple retailers in one transaction. The company was acquired by PopSugar in 2015 and then by Rakuten in 2017. (Both acquisitions were for undisclosed amounts, but Cosmic was valued at about $16 million in 2015, according to PitchBook.)

Adelman stayed on as Cosmic’s CEO through both sales, and as a bitcoin bull for years, he tried to bring the cryptocurrency to his merchant partners there. But they were hesitant. “It was just
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