A grocery shopping app created by former Alliance resident Jeff Hunter was featured on the front page of the iTunes App store, and jumped from 200 users to 60,000 users in just two weeks.
Problem: You stop for milk after work, only to arrive home and find out your spouse stopped and bought milk, too.
Solution: The Anylist grocery shopping app, created by Jeff Hunter.
“Our big differentiating feature is (Anylist) makes it simple to share your list with another person — a husband, wife, whole family, roommate,” said Hunter, 30. “And any changes you make to the list are shown on the other phone in real time.”
Hunter left a job with Apple to start Anylist with college roommate Jason Marr.
“Apple is a great company, but it’s always been a dream of mine to start my own company,” Hunter said. “My dad (Robert Hunter Jr. of Alliance) has his own company, a private law practice, and I grew up reading about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, so I dreamed of starting a business in a garage.”
Hunter and Marr enjoy cooking, so their first app, Anyleaf, aggregated weekly deals at San Francisco-area grocery stores.
“We’re both frugal Midwestern boys. My mom (Mary Beth Hunter) always sent me to the store with coupons,” Hunter said, chuckling. “So we wanted to be sure we were getting the best deals, which meant looking at the circulars and knowing what a good price was.”
They designed Anyleaf to do all that, plus offer a pricing history and deal rating from “hot” to “weak.”
“It’s a cool product, but it’s a lot of work collecting all that data, so Anyleaf is only available in San Francisco,” Hunter said.
In May, they launched Anylist, with its broader appeal that has already attracted users in foreign countries. The success of the app took Hunter by surprise.
“The original idea was to release it with no publicity and make sure the bugs were worked out before it got a lot of attention,” he said.
One week after its release, Anylist was featured as “new and notable” on the front page of the iTunes App Store.
“It was crazy,” Hunter said. “We went from nothing — about 200 users — to 60,000 users in two weeks.”
Hunter admits they had to scramble, sleeping only four hours a night and fixing things on the fly, but they kept up with demand.
The next step is to find sponsors and advertisers.
“The app is free,” Hunter said. “We are working on finding brands to sponsor the app. We want to do it in a tasteful way — not banner ads — and maybe offer coupons.”
Meanwhile, they are improving the app and building their user base.
“We just released version 1.5, which has full support for the new iPhone 5,” Hunter said. “Our goal is to have millions using this app. It’s doable — Apple is selling 150 million iPhones and iPads a year.”