BY Jason Togyer - Tue, 2011-08-09 19:08
- B.S., computer science, Carnegie Mellon University, 2001
As someone who worked for more than two years for the world's largest online retailer--Amazon.com--Jason Crawford might not seem like a friend to traditional stores. But that's not true at all. Crawford likes brick-and-mortar retailers: "Stores have one big advantage that the Web will never have--you can pick something up and take it out of the store the same day."
In fact, Crawford wants to help brick-and-mortar retailers compete using social networking and mobile computing. In 2010, he and fellow SCS alumnus Blake Scholl (CS'01) founded San Francisco's Kima Labs to develop iPhone and iPad apps that can help drive traffic into retail locations. "If brick-and-mortar stores take advantage of the Web in ways that mobile technology offers, they can find new ways to compete," he says.
Kima's first app, Barcode Hero, turns shopping into a game, allowing users to scan UPC codes while they're shopping and share their recommendations with Facebook friends. Player-shoppers earn points for every item they scan, and those with the most points in various categories become the "kings" or "queens" of areas. TechCrunch and other websites have called Barcode Hero "addictive" and "awesome."
Because shopping via the Web requires a lot of searching, Kima's newest app, Deal Flow, does much of the work for the user. Released July 8, Deal Flow draws data from nearly 100 consumer and coupon Web sites to alert users to bargains at restaurants, stores and attractions in their immediate areas. The app helps users "find things you didn't necessarily know were even out there," Crawford says.
A native of D.C.'s Maryland suburbs, Crawford says he was attracted to CMU by faculty and students who really seemed to live the motto, "My heart is in the work."
"People seemed to be happy in what they were doing and excited about what they were working on," Crawford says. These days, his heart and much of his time are invested in Kima Labs, but in his off hours, he enjoys swing dancing and rock climbing.
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