What Really Became Of RewardStock From Shark Tank?

In 2014, a Princeton graduate launched RewardStock, a paid platform that aids travelers in maximizing their frequent flyer miles and hotel points. In an interview with Tech Company News, Jonathan Hayes revealed that this business idea came to him shortly after marrying his wife. He explained, "We took an amazing honeymoon to the Maldives where we got $40K of travel for just $200 in cash because we paid for the trip with frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and credit card points. That experience was amazing, and when we came back, I thought more people would want to do this." Hayes noted that he did three weeks' worth of research to accomplish this feat. 

At the time, he was working as an investment banker on Wall Street. However, after his honeymoon, he left New York and his career behind to start RewardStock. Hayes, a North Carolina native, moved back to his home state and got to work. By 2015, RewardStock had an investor and was on its way up.

In November 2018, RewardStock was featured on Season 10, Episode 5 of "Shark Tank." Hayes entered the tank asking $200,000 for 5% of RewardStock, and he blew the Sharks away when he told them how much he paid for the honeymoon. Hayes' presentation continued to make a memorable impression when hula dancers and a Hawaiian fire dancer performed for the Sharks. But was this enough to get them to make a deal?

RewardStock fared well on Shark Tank

On "Shark Tank," Jonathan Hayes explained how he converted airline miles into hotel points and vice versa to pay for his honeymoon. Lori Greiner noted that this process sounded complicated. Hayes admitted that it is, which is why he created RewardStock. He pointed out that users simply needed to fill out a profile with their miles and rewards information and then search for a travel location. RewardStock would do the rest. When asked how the company was making money, Hayes told the Sharks that he was charging RewardStock users an annual membership fee of $29 and also getting referral revenue.

However, the Sharks were dismayed when Hayes revealed that RewardStock had only garnered $50,000 in sales in the last two years. In addition, he said that RewardStock had only four employees and that he had invested $20,000 of his own money into the company. 

When Hayes disclosed that RewardStock had received $700,000 in investments already, the Sharks were pleasantly surprised. Despite this, guest Shark Sara Blakely said she was out. Greiner did the same after telling Hayes that the company was too young for her to feel comfortable. Barbara Corcoran walked away, saying that she was unhappy that he only made $50,000.

Kevin O'Leary told Hayes he wanted in, but he wanted 10% of RewardStock for $200,000. Hayes looked to Mark Cuban for another offer, and Cuban said he would give Hayes $320,000 for 10% plus 1% in advisory shares. Hayes took the deal.

Reviews for RewardStock were positive

After solidifying his deal with Mark Cuban, Jonathan Hayes said that he will use the money to expand RewardStock, which already had 10,000 users and a re-designed website. Hayes expected more growth thanks to the publicity from "Shark Tank."

After the episode aired, Hayes noted that Canadians in particular were interested in RewardStock. In less than a year, RewardStock saved travelers $250,000. Speaking to Forbes in 2019 about Cuban's role in RewardStock, Hayes revealed: "He's surprisingly involved. We communicate about once or twice a week, and usually by email."

Reviews from Trustpilot prove that users were happy with RewardStock. One individual wrote in September 2019, "We joined, populated our points, and asked for assistance booking one-way business-class flights — we are going around the world on points! Easy peasy!" They added, "RewardStock is absolutely one of the best investments we've made, ever!" 

Another person said they joined after watching "Shark Tank" and were happy with the service. One of the only negative reviews comes from 2020, with an individual expressing disappointment that RewardStock's website was not allowing them to join the platform. However, as the public later learned, there was an exciting reason for this.

Experian purchased RewardStock

In November 2020, Jonathan Hayes sold RewardStock to Experian, a company that provides its user with credit reports, financial advice, and more. It's unknown how much Hayes or Mark Cuban made from this sale or how much Hayes sold RewardStock for. But RewardStock investor David Gardner revealed that "it was a 100 percent cash acquisition." This news came not long after Hayes told the Raleigh Chamber that despite the COVID-19 pandemic and its adverse effects on the travel industry, RewardStock was thriving.

Overall, Hayes told The News & Observer that it was a "great deal for everyone involved" and that he was not planning on leaving RewardStock. He explained that the Experian sale occurred because he wanted RewardStock to expand its offerings to help clients more. He said, "What I would love to see — and as a consumer would love to experience — is the type of platform that really optimizes my outcomes by making better financial decisions."

At the time of this publication, RewardStock's Twitter and Instagram have not been updated since 2019 and 2020, respectively. Moreover, RewardStock's website redirects users to Experian's website.

Jonathan Hayes talks Shark Tank

Jonathan Hayes has openly discussed his brief time on "Shark Tank." In fact, RewardStock did not seek to be on the show. Instead, Hayes received an email about pitching his business idea to the Sharks. Despite getting help from investor David Gardner to prepare his pitch, Hayes told WRAL TechWire, "It's the most stressful thing I've ever done." But he also noted that he was grateful for the experience and Cuban's sizeable investment.

Hayes had a similar sentiment in his 2019 interview with Forbes. He said, "It's amazing how intense the whole experience is. You're pitching your business, and for founders, that's always a personal thing. And you're pitching it not just to any investors; you're pitching to celebrity investors. I brought four t-shirts to my showing of the Shark Tank, and I sweated completely through the first three. So, it is very intense."

As of 2023, Haye's LinkedIn states that he is still the CEO of RewardStock. He is also a father of two and has been a guest speaker at Princeton University alumni events.