Power Pitch

Start-up finds cash for online shoppers

Start-up finds cash for online shoppers
Start-up finds cash for online shoppers

Two Harvard grads are on a mission to help shoppers get money back — after making a purchase.

"Paribus scans [your inbox] for receipts, tracks the prices of what you bought and when they fall, communicates with the stores to get you the money back," says Paribus co-founder Karim Atiyeh.

Shopping “watchdog”

Eric Glyman worked in retail as a teenager, but even then, he noticed that customers weren't getting the best deals on their purchases. Shoppers would be thrilled about getting 20 percent off, but unknowingly, they would lose out on deeper discounts offered by the store a few days later. Glyman told CNBC that many retailers return the price difference if the drop happens within two weeks of the initial purchase.

"The problem is that no one ever files these claims. They're a huge hassle," Atiyeh said. "And by our estimates Americans are leaving $10 billion unclaimed every single year."

Eric Glyman and Karim Atiyeh, Paribus
Source: Paribus

The two Harvard grads decided to do something about it and came up with Paribus while working in finance and consulting in New York.

Show me the money

Paribus is a free app that uses patent pending technology to sync with your email to scan for receipts. When the program detects a receipt from a supported store such as Amazon and Macy's, it checks for price decreases as well as any coupons or promo codes. When a drop is detected, Paribus automatically writes the retailer and submits a refund request. The start-up takes a 25 percent cut of the refund when it's received.

Paribus helps shoppers get refunds
Source: Paribus

When they started the company two years ago, Glyman said Amazon adjusted 200,000 prices on its website a day. Today that number has grown to nearly 100 million price changes.

To capitalize on those consumer savings, the Harvard duo built Paribus "to fight for consumers and get people money they're owed effortlessly," said Glyman.

BillGuard’s “Smart Savings” alert feature displaying a coupon
Digital guard dog for finances

But angel investor Nat Burgess was concerned that retailers see Paribus as a nuisance – a money losing proposition even. But Glyman said his company actually drives purchases.

"The abandoned shopping cart problem is huge. Most consumers, they see something, they add it to their cart, but they don't make the final purchase. With Paribus you have no more fears about missing a better deal," Glyman said. "When you get a few dollars back, you realize, 'I'm going to shop at Amazon or Macy's every single time, because I trust this store.' "

Deal or no deal?

While there are other price-tracking apps on the market like Camelcamelcamel and coupon apps like RetailMeNot, the founders said their company is currently the only one-stop shop for refunds. "No more price drop 'alerts' when you are owed money, Paribus actually gets it for you," Glyman told CNBC.

Americans are expected to spend $350 billion in 2015. Glyman said his company is on pace to process $100 million in purchases and so far has successfully reclaimed hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, he would not disclose an exact amount.

According to the founders, the company has more than 50,000 users, and they are investing revenue into technology and customer acquisition.

Paribus launched in July 2014 at TechCrunch Disrupt NY and has raised $2.2 million from General Catalyst, Greylock, Y Combinator, Slow Ventures, Foundation Capital, Soma Capital, Conversion Capital and One Zero Capital.

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