Miles wants you to travel sustainably — and get rewarded for it. The innovative mobile app turns the traditional traveler loyalty system on its head by rewarding users not just for patronizing a specific airline or car service, but for all kinds of travel, whether it’s on foot or via Uber or public transport. The more sustainable your mode of travel, the more miles you earn. And those miles can be spent on some pretty great swag from big brands like Garmin, Target, and Postmates. Impact’s Richa Dani, Director of Strategic Partnerships, got the lowdown from Cofounder Paresh Jain to find out more about Miles’s journey — and the road ahead.
Richa: The idea of offering points and rewards to a consumer simply for biking to the store is pretty revolutionary. Can you talk about how you came to realize it could be an actual business model?
Paresh: I left my role as VP of Morgan Stanley’s auto and mobility practice to join Jigar Shah and Parin Shah to build Miles. Our vision was to deliver value for every mile traveled, across every mode of transportation, anywhere in the world. We were fascinated by “frequent flyer” programs and had a deep understanding of the space, but were intrigued by how we could provide value to everyone for all forms of transportation. I’d say it was this realization that led to the creation of the Miles business model. We also realized that Miles would fill a demand in the market for a platform to promote brands cost-efficiently and effectively. The Miles app enables brands to engage with customers while providing predictable and efficient conversion rates that improve their marketing ROI.
Richa: Clearly the environmental aspect of your app is appealing to consumers and advantageous for your brand partners. How does the app differentiate among different types of travel without the user having to enter data or log trips?
Paresh: Great question! The Miles app runs seamlessly in the background automatically logging all trips from point A to point B. Our technology is able to differentiate between different modes of transit including car, bus, bike, train, plane, train, and even skiing! The greener your mode of travel, the more bonus miles you can earn. Because of this ease-of-use differentiator, our members can utilize their time in the Miles app discovering new brands and rewards which they can spend their miles on.
Richa: You have received significant funding so far — can you talk about how you leveraged that capital to grow the company during 2019?
Paresh: With the funding, we had two big goals in mind — the expansion of our team and improving our product to better serve our members and brand partners. We’re proud to say that since then, our team has almost doubled in size and we have created an amazing experience for both our members and partners through Rewards 2.0.
Overall, Rewards 2.0 has helped Miles members discover more rewards and brand partners to reach conversions of 5X-15X compared to their average channels.
Richa: Your investor list reads like a who’s-who in startup funding, including VC arms of brands like Porsche, Panasonic, JetBlue, and Sony. What is it about Miles that has captured the imagination of the investment community?
Paresh: The concept and business model of Miles have proven to be of immense interest to various venture firms, especially those in the transportation and auto industries. The ability to provide value by offering rewards to people simply from their daily travels has never been done before, and that alone was enough to capture their attention and imagination. The versatility and diversity of what we’re offering attracts the everyday consumer, making Miles a platform that everyone can use and receive value from.
Richa: How does the Impact platform factor into your business model, and how are you using the platform to attract and manage partners at this phase in your growth? How do you foresee working with Impact to grow even further?
Paresh: The Impact platform is becoming an increasingly important factor in streamlining and optimizing our brand partner onboarding process. Impact makes it easy to identify and partner with quality brands that have rewards worth sharing with the Miles community. Not only that, but Impact simplifies the management of these brand partners, providing us with more time to scale our growth while ensuring quality. We plan on continuing to grow our partner base through the Impact platform and are excited to see what great brands we will work with in the future.
Richa: Relevancy of rewards seems to be a big theme with Miles. Can you talk a little about how you use predictive and behavioral data to customize reward offers and how that benefits your brand partners at redemption?
Paresh: For partners, Miles provides an opportunity to gain insights and understand their customers’ “near-future” needs as they travel and interact with the physical world. We offer the ability to target customers based on demographics, lifestyle, multi-module travel behavior, and geofences, which gives Miles members a personalized experience and brands the opportunity to reach their target audience. Additionally, we would like to note that none of our member’s data is shared directly with our partners, as the security of our member’s information is of top priority.
Richa: You have some interesting partnerships with public-sector entities and cities. How do those kinds of relationships fit into the overall business plan, and do you have more in the works?
Paresh: Yes, we do have more in the works! We have partnered with various city transit agencies across the United States. In fact, we recently partnered with a group of transit agencies in New York City to help shape the city’s future of transit. We find city partnerships to be an important aspect of Miles’s business model in regard to sustainability. Through these partnerships, we have the ability to incentivize members to utilize public transit through what is called “challenges.”
Richa: In terms of rewards partners, what makes a brand a good fit for Miles? Are there any particular brands you’re courting now or that you’d love to see added to your roster?
Paresh: Our team evaluates a variety of factors before onboarding a new reward partner. We first determine whether Miles members would be interested in the brand. If we think they would, we look at the exclusivity of their reward offering and put it through a vetting process to ensure that the given offer is not widely available anywhere else. Lastly, if possible, we prefer to partner with brands that have a similar eco-friendly and environmentally conscious appreciation such as we do. As for brands that we’re trying to bring onto the Miles platform, here’s some we would love to bring on: Ticketmaster, Best Buy, Carter’s, Crocs, ESPN, Skims, and more!
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