BOULDER – Entrepreneur Karen Frame is launching the Makeena app later this month in hopes that it will help make shopping for natural and organic food products easier and more affordable for consumers.
Boulder-based Makeena Inc. is a sort of 21st-century rebirth of a company Frame ran in the mid-1990s called Natural Interactions, which had a touchscreen kiosk system in Wild Oats stores.
The company launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign this week aiming to raise at least $20,000 to keep building out new functions for the app. As it stands now, brands pay Makeena a monthly subscription to include their products in Makeena’s database and let the app know where their products are sold.
Shoppers, either at home while planning their shopping lists or while in stores, can search for different items by things like category, brand, store or attribute. The list of results generated will include products that match the search and are also offering discounts. Once items are purchased, the shopper takes a photo of her receipt with a smartphone, submits it to Makeena through the app for purchase verification, and receives money back based on the offers redeemed.
“Our mission is really to help transition mainstream shoppers into healthy and sustainable shoppers, to give them the tools they need to make that switch and make it easy,” Frame said Thursday.
For the brands, they not only get the marketing benefits but also data about who their customers are and what else they’re buying – information they can’t get through traditional coupons. About 40 brands are signed up so far, and the list continues to grow as the launch approaches.
Frame, a lawyer and certified public accountant, has been general counsel for various technology companies. She began working on Makeena about 20 months ago, funding development of the app through a combination of her own money, angel investors and a loan from the Colorado Enterprise Fund.
The mobile app will initially be available only for iOS users, not Android.
Makeena is continuing to fundraise outside its Kickstarter campaign. But the Kickstarter cash would give the company a quick infusion to ramp up development. If the $20,000 goal is hit, it will allow the company to build out its website for shoppers to plan out their lists at home. But the company also has other features it would like to add if it raises money beyond the $20,000, such as being able to scan product barcodes at home to learn where to buy them or if the brand has a special offer, offering recipes, and comparing prices among retailers.
Eventually, Frame envisions store mapping capabilities and tying into retailers’ point of sale systems so that the rebates can be applied automatically.
“The more money we raise beyond the $20,000, the more we can do with that money obviously,” Frame said.