Aisle50 is the first group-buying outlet for groceries, a $2 trillion business.
The marketing options available to consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) such as Kraft ($52 billion sales), Procter & Gamble ($83 billion), Unilever ($65 billion) and General Mills ($15 billion) haven't changed significantly since the advent of the paper coupon.
Aisle50 gives CPGs everything they want in a digital package. We dress their product up and deliver their message to consumers through a medium that is efficient, novel and attractive -- custom tailored HTML emails and our website, which is making waves in the industry for its design and simplicity. We preserve what CPGs love about full page coupon ads while leveraging what makes the web powerful: targeting, social media and real-time analytics.
We launched in North Carolina in mid-August with Lowes Foods, a 120-store chain with $2 billion in sales. We saw incredible ramp-up in consumer demand, with our subscription base going from zero to 6,000 in four days. Our first deal was with Chobani Greek Yogurt, which is now the largest yogurt maker in America, now on track for 2011 sales of $700 million.
The Chobani deal was a huge success. Our emails were opened at a rate of 87 percent. Our conversion rate topped seven percent overall, several magnitudes higher than industry standards. Bottom line, we delivered for Chobani, which, due to their rocket-like success, is seen as a marketing bellwether by the CPG industry.
The company was founded by Christopher Steiner and Riley Scott in late 2010; the third co-founder, George Korsnick, joined the mix in April 2011. In May, Aisle50 became part of the summer cohort of Y Combinator, Paul Graham's startup accelerator in Mountain View, Calif.
Christopher Steiner, 34, worked for several years as an engineer following college before becoming a tech journalist. He was most recently the Chicago bureau chief of Forbes magazine. In 2009, Steiner published $20 Per Gallon, which examined the future of energy. The book reached the New York Times Bestseller List and was named a best book of the year by Bloomberg and The Financial Times. Steiner, 34, graduated from the University of Illinois with an engineering degree and earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
Riley Scott, 34, graduated in 2000 from the University of Dayton with a degree in computer engineering and earned an MBA from the HEC School of management in 2007. In 2004, Scott founded Greenview Enterprises, an enterprise software consultancy. After his MBA, he moved to Frankfurt to work for the CEO of SAP in their corporate strategy team. He later relocated to Palo Alto to become SAP's Executive Director of LOB Solutions.
George Korsnick, 29, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in computer science in 2004 and earned a master's degree in Information Technology from Carnegie Mellon in 2010. In 2008, the city of Chicago contracted George to reverse engineer a proprietary blackbox financial system used in the processing of all city financial transactions. George built the city a faster, more efficient system that saves the city $6 billion a year. George was most recently senior software engineer at Navteq.