Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
The idea for Basket, a grocery shopping app that compares prices across stores, came to Neil Kataria, the startup’s co-founder, when he was just 9 years old.
Growing up, Kataria would clip coupons with his dad and compare his grocery list across the five stores local to him.
Fast forward to when Kataria moved to D.C. and had his second child in 2013. He comes home late from a trip and lugs in two boxes from Amazon holding 24 items of groceries and baby supplies. The price? $400, he said.
He went to local stores with his Amazon receipt and found that he could have saved 40 percent shopping at those local shops instead. The only problem was that this price comparison process took 12 hours.
At first, Kataria says that five retailers kicked him and his co-founder, Andy Ellwood, out of their stores when the two pitched Basket, Kataria said. Instead, the co-founers turned to user generated content, and created a game to get people to add prices from stores into the app.
“We spent the last three years building that community and being able to collect prices from every grocery store in the US,” Kataria said. “The community piece just started to kick off, to a point where we hit 1 million, 10 million, 100 million so fast.”
Food brands and retailers have now started approaching Basket for its content, which is a way the company can make money since the app does not require a fee to download nor does it have advertising.
The startup began in 2014 in D.C. and then moved to Clarendon in 2016. The company raised raised $12 million in capital and has amassed 600,000 users since the app launched.
In the future, Basket wants to be able to incorporate recipes into the app, with which it could automatically tell users where to buy ingredients across various stores.
Kataria added that Basket wants to transform its in-store shopping experience by creating a list that can cross off items, and possibly be able to pay with Basket and get a 5 percent rebate.
“Seventy percent of people still use a paper shopping list or a text list,” Kataria said. “Our goal is to move that 70 percent and incrementally over to Basket over the next few years and, if we can do just 10 percent of that, we’re going to be really successful.”