Detroit-based startup Jewel lets customers earn money back for shopping top brands online.
By Ashley Zlatopolsky
Photography by Derrick Martinez
Thinking of buying a new Kate Spade bag for the spring season? Savvy shoppers can earn up to 8 percent cash back on that Kate Spade bag when buying online via Jewel.
With more than 350 brands to browse, Jewel is an online shopping platform that offers cash back for making purchases through its website usejewel.com.
“Jewel works with luxury premium brands and helps them connect with cost-conscious consumers,” says Andrew Landau, co-founder of the tech startup. “People want a good deal, want to save money and want to get a fair price.”
There are no membership fees or obligations. Users sign up, shop brands of interest and earn money back. Landau explains as more people turn to online shopping, he hopes Jewel, which launched in September 2017, can be a one-stop shop to discover new brands while saving money on others.
Once a user makes a purchase via Jewel, the platform will calculate the cash back amount and pay users directly through checks or PayPal.
Landau, 33, launched Jewel — based in Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit — after working for Google from 2007 to 2011, including locations in Phoenix, Ann Arbor and Chicago. The University of Michigan graduate then moved back to his home of Metro Detroit to launch a startup called Chalkfly with his brother Ryan Landau that offered office and school supplies to brands, consumers and teachers.
It taught him the ins and outs of being a business owner in the tech field. Selling Chalkfly in 2014, Landau moved to New York City to work for jet.com. Yet he still thought about going back to a startup, and when the groundwork for Jewel was developed, the now Birmingham-based entrepreneur returned to the Motor City.
“New York is great and it was a fantastic experience,” Landau explains, “but Detroit is where my family is. It has a great entrepreneurial environment and an up-and-coming tech and fashion scene.”
It was the perfect spot to start a business, he notes. There is a unique energy in Detroit and a culture of togetherness, he describes, that differs from other big cities: “It was something I wanted to be a part of. Regardless of where you live or what you do or where you’re from, I think everyone in Detroit wants to see the others succeed. There’s a general sense of a rising tide.”
A business owner or developer can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, which has its benefits. Finding the right people, the right investors and the right community becomes easier to identify. With his team of five, which he expects to grow soon, Landau has found the most strategic location to launch Jewel.
“It’s smart doing business in Detroit,” he says.
When Landau left jet.com in February 2017, he noticed gaps in the e-commerce and affiliate marketing industries. “Luxury or premium brands want to be in a brand-sensitive environment surrounded by other like brands as they reach new online consumers,” he explains. “We wanted to have a safe space for these brands.”
From a customer standpoint, he continues, Jewel could offer an opportunity for consumers of all demographics to find ways to save online.
Jewel received $400,000 from investors for its launch and began with fashion, quickly growing to include beauty, shoes, athleisure, lifestyle and accessories, among other types of shopping. With 10,000 users and increasing quickly, Jewel has come a long way in a year and a half.
“Whether someone is looking to buy from Lululemon or Everlane, we’re working with hundreds of brands,” Landau says. For example, Tory Burch purchases through Jewel can get users up to 13.5 percent cash back, while Barneys New York Warehouse purchases offer up to 6 percent cash back.
“If you’re looking for it, we probably have it,” he says.
Jewel also partners with travel brands. Travelers can save on airfare and lodging through partnerships with Air France and Accor Hotels, among others, some brands offering as high as 7 percent cash back.
Other major partners include beauty line Clinique, footwear Sorel and women’s activewear designer Sweaty Betty. There are also home and specialty partners, department store partners and vegan style partners.
“I am an avid online shopper, eBay seller and bargain hunter,” says Lauren Rubin, who regularly shops via Jewel. The 28-year-old Birmingham-based shopper says she is always searching the internet for the best prices for pieces she wants to purchase.
“I started using Jewel last spring and was pleasantly surprised at both the ease in which you can use the website to make purchases, as well as the percentage of cash back you can earn,” she explains.
With a national reach out of Detroit, Landau would like to see Jewel develop more international partnerships in the future. “As an entrepreneur, no one is going to tell you when to take the first step,” he says. “You just have to do it.
“We have a lot of ideas over the next few years that we’re excited to hopefully bring to market.”