In recent years, the world has seen an increase in technological advancements that have made life more convenient for people. Two software developers, Aidan Josias and Kyle Fortuin who hail from Cape Town, saw an opportunity to leverage technology to help people save money on their grocery purchases. They started a points-based system that rewards users for uploading the retail receipts for their daily grocery purchases to compare prices with other retail prices.
Birth of CarthShare
The genesis of CartShare occurred when Aidan was shopping for sanitary pads with a friend and observed a substantial price discrepancy of R60 for the same product at another store. Aidan’s sharp focus on unit prices led him to realize that many consumers overlook the prices of essential items such as sanitary pads, resulting in excessive spending. This experience motivated Aidan and his co-founder to develop a platform that allows users to compare prices for everyday products and make well-informed purchasing decisions.
Despite searching for a pre-existing company that provided such a service, Aidan found none that catered to fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands. Thus, he and his co-founder decided to create a platform that amalgamates and displays essential product prices, assisting as many individuals as possible. They envisioned a platform that they would use themselves and one that their family and friends would use too.
In essence, CartShare was established with the objective of empowering people to make more intelligent purchases and save money on essential products.
Overview of Operations and Features
CartShare operates by utilizing web-scraping techniques to gather price data from various retailers and present it on their platform. The company intends to collect user receipt data to enhance their understanding of the market, providing real-time updates on price fluctuations and purchasing patterns. All data collected is stored centrally and made accessible to users. Users are incentivized to upload their receipts and can earn points that they can exchange for rewards or discounts from participating retailers on preferred brands.
Initially, CartShare aimed to approach retailers such as Shoprite and Pick ‘n Pay for data. However, recognizing the private and exclusive nature of data communities, the company pivoted to web-scraping external resources, requiring minimal human intervention.
The platform intends to introduce a budgeting system that automatically analyzes users’ receipts, allowing them to track their expenses and identify areas of overspending. CartShare also plans to enable families to share expenses and budgets by linking their accounts to contribute to a shared budget. Additionally, the app is exploring the possibility of introducing analytics features that allow users to track changes in prices for specific products and brands over time.
To incentivize users to share their receipt data, the company has implemented a reward system based on points. Users earn points for every item they purchase, with the number of points varying depending on the support of the brand. The rewards received by users come from the funds brands allocate for marketing campaigns and price reductions. This reward system allows brands to connect with users, gain marketing insights, and offer discounts in an efficient and streamlined way.
Obstacles in Building a Successful Startup
Creating a prosperous startup from scratch is a formidable challenge, and Cartshare’s founders, Aidan Josias and Kyle Fortuin, have faced significant hurdles along the way. One of the most pressing challenges they encountered was their lack of knowledge in the areas of business, marketing, and finance, which compelled them to learn quickly and efficiently to make progress.
Additionally, the founders have struggled to articulate Cartshare’s unique value proposition in a manner that resonates with potential customers. This is a frequent problem faced by entrepreneurs seeking to introduce new ideas to the market. However, through perseverance and determination, they have overcome this challenge and developed a loyal user base.
Another major challenge has been managing the financial aspects of the business, particularly understanding their burn rate and budget management. These factors are critical to any startup, and Cartshare has had to work diligently to remain financially on track.
It is noteworthy that the business has been bootstrapped entirely and has not received any investments or grants. The founders have sought grants that could support BBBEE-based businesses or companies with a social impact, but to no avail. They have relied solely on their own resources to fund the business. However, participating in several acceleration programs has been fortuitous in providing some support and resources.
Despite these challenges, Cartshare has thrived with the assistance of the iCollective accelerator program, based in Cape Town. The program is part of Innovation City Cape Town, an invite-only ecosystem that hosts over 60 tech startups, SMMEs, corporates, and investors. The iCollective accelerator provided Cartshare with invaluable support, assisting them in developing a more viable business case.
Furthermore, Cartshare’s acceptance into FSAT Labs incubator was a result of their prior participation in incubation programs such as Seedstars and Innovation City. To secure a spot in the incubator, they had to pitch their business idea and provide their pitch deck and stage of the business to the FSAT Labs team. Their extensive understanding of the business, financials, and pitch deck facilitated their acceptance into the incubator.
Cartshare’s journey at FSAT Labs involved regular meetings with the incubator team to understand the business’s needs and receive assistance with various aspects, including finances, legal matters, UI/UX, design, developer meetings, and pitching. The incubator also provided a structured approach to help them with various aspects of their business, such as UI/UX and hiring developers, which proved advantageous for Cartshare. Joining FSAT Labs enabled Cartshare to receive the support they needed to grow their business and take it to the next level.
Exploring Partnership Opportunities in Business Ventures
While Aidan and Kyle demonstrated a keen interest in forging connections with companies that are tackling similar market challenges. Specifically, they expressed a desire to collaborate with Trolli, a Johannesburg-based company with a strong focus on customer experience but lacking the technological infrastructure necessary to bring their vision to life. Aidan and Kyle are eager to gain insight into Trolli’s research and market positioning in order to explore opportunities for mutual benefit and advancement.
In addition, Aidan and Kyle revealed that they have been reaching out to competitors in order to gain a better understanding of market dynamics and learn from past mistakes. This approach has proven to be fruitful in fostering team collaboration and product development, and they hope to continue connecting with other companies that share their vision and aspirations.
One of the main challenges they have faced in identifying potential partners is their unwavering commitment to not charging their end users. This ethos creates a higher bar for finding partners who are similarly driven by the desire to solve the problem at hand rather than focusing solely on financial gain. They are seeking partners who align with their values and can complement areas where they may lack expertise or resources.
In conclusion, CartShare, a startup founded by Aidan Josias and Kyle Fortuin, offers a platform that compares prices for everyday products and enables users to make informed purchasing decisions. Through web-scraping techniques, the platform collects data from various retailers and incentivizes users to upload their receipts by offering rewards based on points. Despite facing obstacles in building a successful startup, such as a lack of knowledge in business, marketing, and finance, the founders have overcome these challenges and developed a loyal user base. CartShare’s journey in the iCollective accelerator program and FSAT Labs incubator has helped them to develop a more viable business case, and they are now exploring partnership opportunities in business ventures. CartShare is an inspiring example of how technology can be leveraged to empower people and make a positive impact on society.