Two years ago today, I started working full time on building something that I believed would have the chance to disrupt a trillion dollar industry if it succeeded. It was a long shot because the stake holders in that industry were incredibly suspicious of the innovation that my team and I were attempting to build. If we succeeded, we’d bring transparency and a level playing field to consumers for the first time and potential disrupt the pricing strategies and margins of an entrenched business model.
Two years ago today, I started working full time to build Basket.
Now, an important side note, two years ago, it wasn’t called Basket. It was called StockUp. The vision for Basket was one we weren’t ready to release officially into the wild and we had a huge data challenge ahead of us, so we built a “fake” start up and brand called StockUp. As StockUp, we grew our user base and closed deals with some of the top companies in the world. We made the New York Times and had two very serious acquisition offers placed in front of us for the simple, yet engaging “fake” company we’d built. But it was just a means to an end.
We set out to build a shopping list that tells consumers where to shop based on real time pricing of grocery and everyday items. As consumers, we’re all shopping blind. We don’t know if we are paying the best price for our weekly shopping list or if we could have gone to the store down the road and saved time and money because of an in-store sale or because that store had all our products in stock.
When we told the big retailers what we wanted to build, a couple of them took us seriously and a couple others patted us on our heads and said, “silly entrepreneurs, no way in hell we’re helping you.” We went to the manufactures and told them what we were building and they said, “we’d love to help, but the retailers have the information you're looking for, good luck.” So then we went to the actual shoppers and they said, “we had no idea we could save that much time and money on our most frequent purchases, of course we’ll help!”
So, borrowing a few pages from the playbook we developed while I was at Waze and Gowalla, we set out to crowd source the products, stores, and prices for all grocery and every day items in the country. StockUp was our gamified vehicle to collect all the data and build what is now the largest consumer product database in the world. We have over one million unique grocery, baby, pet, health, and beauty products across 165,000 stores in our proprietary APEX database. And on top of that, we have more than one billion prices live in our newly launched Basket application.
For the first time ever, there is a smart shopping list that will tell you all that you want to know before you even leave your house to go to the store. Simply check your shopping list in Basket and we’ll tell you which stores carry all your products and at what price. From there, you can make the decision on which store to go to based on what’s important to you. Some of our shoppers go to the store that is closest by to them to save time and enjoy the convenience. Others find that they can save money by going to a different store than usual. No matter what, everyone is saving time and money on every shopping trip.
So much of the innovation that has been hot and exciting in the grocery and commerce space recently has been built for the digital one percent, those that have more money than they have time and they’ll pay whatever it costs to have someone else do their shopping for them. (and that business model isn't turning out to work as well as everyone thought it might a couple years ago) But that is not the majority of this country. Last year 96% of all grocery and household transactions occurred offline in a store. And while folks here in NYC and out in Silicon Valley pay for their kale salads and green juices to be delivered in under 15 minutes, there are families without much time or money that are working to make sure they do the best they can with what they have. That is who I am building Basket to serve. That is who we are seeing become our most active users. That is a whole new audience for technology and innovation and it is a really large audience that is ready to start shopping without the blindfold on and ready to have all the information they need to make the best choice for them and their families.
Basket is just getting started even though we are couple years into building this company. Want to see how much time and money it can save you? Want to know about it before everyone else does? Download the newest version of the app, build your first shopping list, and tell me what you think!