In 1994 Curtiss Pope's first job was as a grocery store clerk. Only 15, he couldnâ€™t understand why there wasnâ€™t a document to show customers which aisle had the bread and which aisle had the dairy. â€œI had to be well versed in the store layout,â€ remembers Pope. Fast-forward to 2008; Pope, now a software engineer, was on a grocery run with his wife when he got a spark of inspiration. He wanted to create a mobile app to help customers navigate their stores. That's exactly what he did.
The app, AisleFinder, helps shoppers find their grocery items based on their shopping list. It also provides users with coupons and collects information about shoppersâ€™ habits. Popeâ€™s wife, along with several of his friends and family, thought it was a great idea and gave him moral support; along with $22,000.
Unfortunately, the national grocery store chains didnâ€™t feel the same way. It took a year and a half before Pope, and his four-person staff, were able to get a pilot deal with national grocery retailer, Safeway Inc. After a lot of coaxing the store agreed that starting this January they would endorse his app in 40 of their stores across California.
Although AisleFinder still has a long way to go, Pope says that the deal with Safeway is already opening doors to other retailers. Here are his 10 tips for closing a deal with a national brand.