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.
Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise'ss Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online.