High School Dropout Raises $5 Million in Series B Round for Customer Loyalty Service 500friends


500friends – a cloud-based customer loyalty management platform – announced the closing of a $5 million Series B round yesterday, according to TechCrunch. Investors include Intel Capital, Fung Capital, and Crosslink Capital, with Intel’s Carey Lai and Fung’s Michael Hsieh joining the 500friends board. 

500friends offers a white-label ‘social loyalty platform’ which helps retailers reward customers for everything from purchases to writing reviews and uploading content. Retailers can also divide customers into segments and estimate their likely lifetime ‘value,’ thus targeting the most valuable customers for deals and special services. The company charges retailers a fee each time a customer uses the platform.

Co-founder Justin Yoshimura, 23, says the next step will be developing loyalty programs to operate via customers’ mobile devices, as well location-based capabilities to alert people when they are nearby the store that they have special deal offers.

This, of course, could mean a whole new level of spamming (imagine receiving texts from every clothing store you walk past in New York City), but overall, the grand vision is pretty impressive. And Yoshimura just might be crazy enough to make it work. He’s a high-school dropout and serial entrepreneur, and “got in trouble” for a previous venture of selling illegal Mexican fireworks, according to this profile in the Wall Street Journal. He also sold his first company, Cellwholesale.com, when he was 19.