Cucalu has been set up by John Howlett, Lauren Francis and Sam Ensfield, three internet entrepreneurs in their own right that came together via a network of leading digital and technology entrepreneurs in the US.
They have a wealth of experience which has been used to created Cucalu, which promises to be an app that will be well received in an age where the care of our planet is becoming pivotal in changing our habits, including shopping habits, so that the impact on the environment is as minimal as it can be.
In this instance, keeping things local means keeping the carbon footprint low since transportation requirements are minimal.
John Howlett is a from the US and worked with internet
entrepreneur Jan Koum, who
co-founded the mobile messaging application WhatsApp.
John was born in 1976 and whilst attending college found a job at Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer, at the same time as Jan Koum and Brian Acton, Yahoo employees over several years, who went on to form the WhatsApp messaging application, the most popular messaging platform in the world.
John became interested in programming while at high school and discovered an inherent ability for it. By the time he completed his schooling at 18, he was a skilled self-taught computer network engineer.
He enrolled at University and had a job with Goldman Sachs investment bank as a security tester to help pay for his studies.
After university, John joined Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer. His contemporaries at the time were the no-nonsense Jan Koum and Brian Acton, who went on to form the WhatsApp messaging application, the most popular messaging platform in the world.
John left Yahoo to explore newer avenues in social media, opportunities that were not available within Yahoo and in 2007 he was offered work at Facebook. On buying his first iPhone in 2009, John realized the market potential for iPhone compatible applications and was working on some ideas of his own.
Meanwhile, so were others, including his former colleagues at Yahoo.
In 2012, John began working at WhatsApp, now with about 200 million active users. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 and John returned to the company.
Lauren is also a US entrepreneur. Lauren studied in the
Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University, and her graduate thesis
project was on anonymous online systems.
Lauren spent her early years at an ultra-exclusive school called Crossroads in Santa Monica, California, whose alumni include Tinder co-founder Sean Rad, Kate Hudson, and Gwyneth Paltrow, but was never one of the “cool” members of the school, which is why she worked on making things that were cool instead.
At University Lauren was able to sit in on a graduate-level class on entrepreneurship and venture capital and heard talks from tech heroes including Google CEO Eric Schmidt and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley.
Between 2006 and 2009, Lauren was working on 4chan, an anonymous system with no data retention on the site.
Over the next few years, the increasing prevalence of persistent user identities and the sharing of personal information on sites such as Facebook and Twitter meant that 4chan was challenging every Internet convention: the antithesis of Google, social networking sites, and blogs.
This made her move to Google in 2013 all the more surprising. On a personal level, Lauren is married to Damon McIntyre, and they have a young daughter named Emma.
Born in California, Sam is an Internet entrepreneur and engineer.
He worked with
Bobby Murphy, Evan Spiegel and Reggie Brown, the co-founders of social media company
Snap Inc., who were students at Stanford University in the years above him.
Ensfield graduated from Stanford University, California in 2011, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematical and computational Science and from there worked on a failed startup, a website that aimed to give advice to students applying to universities.
He then began working as a software engineer at Revel Systems, until eventually being recruited by Snapchat once venture capital funding had been secured there, working on Snapchat's Snap Labs team.
At around this time, Sam was taking ballroom dancing classes as part of a scheme to increase his chances of meeting women, using his analytical thinking from his computer science work into his personal life.
He eventually married Alwynna Jones, a research associate at the time and now a novelist. The couple has four children together.
John, Lauren, and Sam met through Founders Forum, a private
nonprofit network of
leading digital and technology entrepreneurs hosting international events that bring
together some of the world’s digital entrepreneurs, for open debate, brainstorming,
discussion and problem solving, with a focus on cultivating collaborative
relationships over profit.
It was originally a forum where new businesses could meet with funding sources and potential investors but has since evolved into an educational and networking organization where entrepreneurs can learn from and build relationships with many of the most successful business leaders.
It was through meeting at events at Founders Forum that the idea for Cucalu was born and then flourished, being created alongside other projects, using the skills of other team members from their other works.
Stephan Seiler, assistant professor of marketing at Stanford
Graduate School of
Business has been researching retailer run promotions. In one project he looked at
the companies which temporarily lowered prices on specific products by as much as 20
percent to 30 percent.
Seiler wanted to find out why consumers did not always take advantage of these deals, even if the deals were for items that are bought fairly often, such as laundry detergent. The reason customers pass up good deals is that too often, and they are not even aware that promotion is going on.
Seiler found that on around 70 percent of shopping trips, customers did not look for promotional prices and were not aware of them in any other way. This led to John, Lauren and Sam joining forces.
Their previous career experiences, together with their Founders Forum journey has enabled the co-founders of Cucalu to come together with the same goal to increase the spread of information around local promotions so that more people could take advantage of them.
They are offering a differentiation from the competition, knowledge to grow sales as well as creating a strong team capable of accelerating the company’s growth objectives.
Whether it is a natural shift over time, or whether it has been
caused by the
economic downturn of 2008, the number of offers on products and services both
land-based and online is staggering.
Even successful multi-national businesses offer a swathe of promotions for consumers, suggesting that for most purchases it’s worth the customer checking they are getting the best deal.
Strategic reasons for companies to offer sales promotions include getting rid of slow-moving stock or moving the company out of a slump. Promotions attract new customers who are encouraged to buy something new or try something new in the hope these customers will stay with you for repeat orders in the future.
Cucalu is a local search-and-discovery mobile app which provides
search results for
The app provides personalized recommendations of sales promotions near a user's current location based on users' previous browsing history and check-in history using built-in GPS to take advantage of smartphones like the iPhone, to better detect a user's location.
Cucalu lets users search for sales promotions in different sectors, including restaurants, nightlife spots, shops and other places of interest in their surrounding area.
It is also possible to search for other areas by entering the name of a remote location. The app displays personalized recommendations based on factors that include a user's history.
Each recommendation has a review left by other users; these are short messages about what is good, or not so good, about the promotion or business. Tips are limited to 200 characters but can include a URL to link to an external site with more information and can include a photo.
As a reward for leaving quality tips, a user can earn "expertise" in a particular location (such as a town or city) or category (such as textiles or homeware).
Users can personalize their search experience, so they only receive relevant promotions, and these are fine-tuned to include particular items, eco-friendliness and more.
The app uses natural language processing to match a user's tastes with the promotions on offer.
Each promotion is given a numeric score to indicate its general popularity, with calculations automatically factoring in user ratings.
Cucalu also provides different levels, which are status levels awarded to who meet specific quality and quantity criteria. The higher the level, the more discounts and offers available.
This is an incentive for repeat visits to favorite sites and can be anything from an additional discount on an online purchase or a free gift wrap at a land-based store.
Cucalu will be available for Android, iOS & Windows Phone devices.