Following Mobile App Success, BoaLista Hits the Web

One main purpose of technology is to lighten the load of daily tasks, many of which prove quite daunting. Take, for example, grocery shopping. While foodies are popping up left and right and cooking is an age-old hobby, it’s not likely you’ll hear someone say, “I just love hitting up Safeway after work.”

The BoaLista app was released in 2011 by founders Fábio Freitas and Roberto Ferreira, accompanied by a team of professionals from prominent Brazilian universities. BoaLista has been placed second on the Apple AppStore’s list of top 25 applications in Brazil, being named first in the highlights category. BoaLista has already reached 280,000 downloads.

In Brazil, BoaLista is helping consumers to improve the grocery shopping experience. Along the lines of ShopSavvy and RedLaser, BoaLista allows users to compare prices, find out about deals and create shopping lists. The free app is available for mobile devices and, most recently, on the web.

The App can be used at various types of establishments, including pharmacies, supermarkets, department stores and appliance retailers. It works with a wide range of products, including food, consumer goods, medicine and appliances. One main feature of BoaLista is its barcode-reading function for smartphones, which allows users to track purchases, share shopping lists and compare prices.

This week, the startup is launching a tool that allows users to create and manage shopping lists online as well as consult prices, bringing to the web information that has thus far only been available to its mobile users.

BoaLista CEO Fábio Freitas filled us in on BoaLista, an app that has received quite a bit of buzz in a very short period of time.

Emily Stewart: BoaLista opened with a big investment. How has that influenced the roll-out of the company? Will you seek a new round of investments?

Fábio Freitas: The initial investment of R$1 million ( like US$500,000) came from friends (angels) and helped after the launch of the application in August 2011 through the 2012 year. Right now, we’re talking to new investors to get new investments.

From the beginning, the work hasn’t stopped. With the launch, also came comments, requests and questions from users, and we have worked hard to answer and attend to them accordingly. It isn’t easy to collect and offer information on products, prices and stores, or to keep everything updated. That said, it’s a huge opportunity. . . . We can offer users the best products and prices from physical and online stores. Manufacturers can advertise their products to the right consumer as well. The next step is to allow our users to help each other in a social commerce network.

The investments allowed us to introduce the price comparison feature for products that have no barcode, such as fruits and vegetables. We are also starting to allow users to place generic products like milk and soda on their shopping lists. And, we alert customers of sales on products near their homes.

ES: There are a number of startups popping up in Brazil in the same rubric that offer similar services. How do you deal with the competition? What makes BoaLista stand out?

FFAlthough people may think at first sight that these are similar services, our user experience and focus are very different. For example, since we launched BoaLista, we have been ready to address the matter of physical stores, and our crowdsourcing platform was ready on launch as well. Our users have an active participation in the daily registering of prices, products and stores, and they can comment and share product lists and purchases through social networks. Today, our focus is on the grocery segment, but we don’t plan to stop there.

In the area of shopping list creation, we are taking a significant step this week. We are now allowing our users to create lists on the web (www.boalista.com.br). The difference with our platform when compared to others is that it allows users to create a shopping list as if they were writing on paper, in a simple and fast way. We then pick up what the client has listed. If he or she lists milk, we bring up only milk options, not cream or related products. Also, we offer the possibility of placing generic products on lists, such as fruits, fish and meat. The next step is to compare the price of these products that don’t have a barcode and find offers of items from the lists of our users in local stores. We are investing a lot in the shopping list creation experience, and the first web users are giving their feedback right now. We think that we are on the right path.

ES: How do you see the lay of the land in terms of mobile devices in Brazil, especially considering BoaLista’s dependence on the rubric’s growth?

FFI think that mobile devices have a good outlook in Brazil. Certainly, 2011 was the first year we saw a step in this direction, when the sale of iOS and Android devices started to become significant. This year, in comparison with 2011, we see a rough increase, and I think this growth will be very strong in the next three to five years.  

Telecommunications enterprises have to invest huge resources in improving infrastructure in the next 12 to 18 months to achieve higher-quality mobile internet, all while the user base of smartphones is growing stronger. I am very optimistic with the new reality that will begin in 2014 and last until the end of 2016, in terms of number of users and quality of our data network. The companies that are investing in the mobile segment will have good chances of success ahead.

ES: What are your expectations for BoaLista for the rest of this year and next in terms of numbers, locations and technologies?

FF: We expect to reach 750,000 users by the end of 2012. In addition, we have an initial earnings estimate of R$3 million (roughly US$1.5 million) in the medium term coming from advertising and leads to online and local stores.

It is very important to say that, as of July, we have been focused on the release and maintenance of the expansion of BoaLista to the Worldwide Web, which should increase our following. Besides that, we will start to form partnerships with local retailers to allow users to purchase products directly from BoaLista and with major manufacturers to advertise their brands and products on BoaLista as well.

As the application is free, our main source of revenue is advertising. Therefore, we also have the goal of establishing new partnerships with companies that can use BoaLista as a tool to disseminate promotions and lower prices in each region.

BoaLista is one of several technology solutions popping in Brazil related to the grocery sector – we’ve looked at Igluu and MeuCarrinho in just the past couple of months. It’s clear that the area represents a big opportunity for entrepreneurs and developers, but exactly how to take best take advantage is something we don’t yet know. BoaLista is betting its formula will take the cake.

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