How Shape Challenge semifinalist Aisle411 is digitizing and transforming the indoor shopping experience
Post by Glen German, Product Marketing Manager, AT&T Developer Program
In February, we invited students, developers, and entrepreneurs to enter a product or app in the Shape Challenge. Unlike hackathons, the Shape Challenge focuses on working products and prototypes – meaning a lot of the kinks have been ironed out. We recently announced the semifinalists for the Augmented Network category, where we asked for submissions of network or content delivery challenge solutions. Now, we invite you to get to know a little bit more about Aisle411, a semifinalists in that category.
We asked team members of Aisle411 Nathan Pettyjohn, Founder and CEO, Matthew Kulig, Co-Founder and COO, Dante Cannarozzi, CTO, and Daniel Hawks, Senior Product Manager to tell us all little bit more about the St. Louis-based team and their project.
Tell us a bit about Aisle411…
Aisle411’s original mission was to make shopping easier by helping shoppers find products inside stores using their smartphones. The company has since broadened its focus to digitizing the entire indoor ecosystem.
What is the purpose of Aisle411?
Aisle411 is building an engaging indoor experience by combining maps, location data, user positioning, and virtual augmentation into a single mobile platform.
What was your inspiration behind the development of Aisle411?
The inspiration for Aisle411 came from a frustrating shopping trip to a big box retail store. Our company’s founder asked store associates for assistance and still spent 20 minutes trying to find a surge protector.
How long has Aisle411 been in development?
Aisle411 was founded in 2008. The iPhone hit the market the previous year. The iOS smartphone was a perfect fit for the type of indoor search and navigation experience we wanted to create for shoppers. The advancement of mobile and indoor technology in the past 24 months has been a springboard for our company’s recent innovation, positioning Aisle411 for rapid growth.
What are some challenges you have encountered while developing Aisle411?
The primary challenge is that data source for indoor venues are either messy and constantly changing, or entirely nonexistent.
How did your team overcome those challenges?
Necessity is the mother of invention. Aisle411 devised methods and tools to capture and organize indoor data, and scale it for clients with a single venue and for retailers with hundreds or thousands of store locations.
How do you think smart networks will change how we shop in the future?
Through the evolution of technology and a broadened focus on the entire indoor environment, Aisle411 has never lost sight of its original mission: Make shopping easier. A majority of shopping is still done in brick-and-mortar retail stores, but shoppers want the conveniences and rich, engaging experiences of online shopping. We use shoppers’ mobile devices to help them find and discover products, save money, accelerate checkout, and offer a useful and convenient guest experience. We call this the “mobile concierge ideal.”
What’s next for Aisle411?
Aisle411 is capitalizing on key partnerships to advance our platform and expand our network of indoor venues. Our goal is to digitize, contextualize, and virtually augment any and every indoor space — retail stores, airports, shopping malls, hospitals, museums, campuses, warehouses, office buildings, convention centers, etc.
What is your development background?
Our CTO, Dante Cannarozzi, has a background in full stack development with a focus on mobile and middle tier services. He has worked on small and large teams across a variety of industries.
What type of development background do your team members have?
Our team is comprised of Android, iOS, PHP and Web developers who possess a combined 50+ years of experience in a variety of industries.
How did you form the Aisle411 team?
The Aisle411 team has grown organically by adding talented and passionate people through a combination of personal connections, academic outreach, and professional networking. St. Louis has a supportive startup scene, and Aisle411 is always looking for people who want to innovate.
Preferred coding languages?
Favorite development tool? Why do you like it?
Cannarozzi’s favorite development tool is TextMate, which neatly combines the simplicity of a text editor with syntax highlighting and text formatting. This is useful for quickly looking at and parsing code for the various programming languages we use here at Aisle411.
What technologies are you most passionate about? Did those passions help shape the app you created?
Aisle411 is interested in any technology that can help us achieve our mission of digitizing the indoor environment. We are particularly excited about computer vision, visible light communication, and virtual and augmented reality.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming developers who may have an idea that they want to turn into a reality?
First, decide if the product you want to build is something you would use yourself. If it is, do lots of market research, and talk to as many smart people in the field as possible. Then, work really hard.
How important is it for companies like AT&T to hold innovation challenges like the AT&T Shape Challenge for pure technological innovation?
Innovation is accelerated when money, recognition, and honors are given to entrepreneurs. Events like the AT&T Shape Challenge provide a platform to share ideas with the world and awaken the next big thing.
Interested in learning more about Aisle411? Come see the team’s live pitch at Shape in AT&T Park on Friday, July 15th at 7:00 pm.
Register for Shape
Join us at Shape being held at AT&T Park on July 15th and 16th and discover innovative ways tech is shaping our future. We have a line-up of speakers who are visionaries in their fields including Ray Kurzweil, Jason Silva, Nate Silver, John Stankey and Ralph de la Vega along with panels where participants discuss everything from smart cities to the impact of tech on society. Stroll through interactive exhibits to get a glimpse at how technology is transforming the way we live. Take part in the Shape Hackathon and compete for prizes. Marvel as your kids learns to solder and create things they only imagined at Maker Camp Live. Round out your experience by watching the Shape Challenge semi-finalists present their projects live on stage. Enjoy a performance from iHeartRadio LIVE with Silversun Pickups at AT&T Park. Ready to immerse yourself at a tech expo unlike any other? Sign up for Shape today.
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