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Rideshare app rewards Austinites for supporting local businesses

The Freebird app allows people to earn rewards for using rideshare apps. (Laura Figi)

Are your rideshare apps making your wallet hurt? Freebird, a new app relaunching in Austin, could reward you for taking a ride to a local business.

The free app has two goals: Drive traffic to local businesses and reward rideshare passengers for doing so.

From Los Angeles, Freebird is launching in Austin as the first city since the pandemic. The Freebird app connects to rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft and gives passengers points for taking rides to local businesses. The points add up to be rewards and perks for participating places.

"During the pandemic, Austin received more Bay Area transplants than any other urban area. This huge influx of transplants continues to fuel an ever-expanding nightlife scene in Austin and we want to play a role in this growth," Freebird CEO Kurt Brendlinger said. "So we built an app that's all about discovering new venues, enjoying worry-free fun, and earning rewards for going out."

The app is already being used in LA and Boston, where Brendlinger said the company saw "a lot of momentum" and led to a national expansion. Brendlinger said if success is seen in Austin, the company will expand to other markets.

Local businesses that partner with Freebird can hold promotions for riders with customized offers.

A few of the app's current offers include a $5 reward at Kinda Tropical, 3501 E. 7th St., when you spend $15, and a $5 reward at Indian Roller, 10006 Menchaca Road, or Emmer & Rye, 51 Rainey Street. Locations that sell alcohol may offer discounts on safe rides home "when they need them most."

Brendlinger said one of the app's goals is to help revitalize the food and entertainment industry after weathering a harsh year due to COVID-19.

"Freebird is a platform that supports Austin's bar and restaurant industry by driving guests to their businesses," Brendlinger said. "We're working with merchants to drive customer traffic and support revenue recovery post-COVID."


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