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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Providing Answers for Some of Life’s Burning Questions

You’ve been invited to a party and you see these must-have shoes at Nordstrom’s that are a budget-breaker. What do you do?

1) Resist the urge

2) Put it on plastic

You can pose that question (and others like it) and tally how many people answered No. 1 and No. 2 on a free app developed by Ric Militi, founder and CEO of Crazy Raccoons, LLC, a local technology think tank.

Aptly named the Zip Question & Answer app, it won’t reveal whether you decided to make the purchase, but all the information gathered in the process could prove valuable to marketers trying to gauge buying habits.

Right now, Militi is focused on the fun aspect of the social app that allows users to anonymously create profiles, pose questions such as the one above and solicit one of two answers. The questions can be randomized or chosen from a category.

“The whole premise of the app is to settle, resolve and answer life’s subjective questions,” said Militi, 57, who also owns three other companies, including InnoVision Marketing Group. “So if you’re in an argument with someone, if you’re debating something, if you want to know which car to buy, if you want to know what food people like better, [it can help with] all those things.”

Users can choose question categories of interest. The current top categories are relationships & dating, lifestyle, politics and food & drink. The average user has five alerts each day reminding them to answer a question.

The user can also set an age range for their questions, access mature content questions, and use the “Do not disturb” setting to turn off alerts. The app also allows users to type a phrase into a search, called QuickCode, to bring up a specific company’s questions.

As of Jan. 25, the company said users answered more than 4.2 million questions. On average, 153,426 answers are received a day. The app has users in all 50 states. The average user is 33.

Militi generated user interest quickly by approaching media companies first and partnering with iHeart Radio, a company with seven stations in Los Angeles, for the app’s launch last year.

iHeart Radio; MyFM, a Los Angeles radio station; and Fox5, a local broadcast station, are a few of the over dozen media companies who use the app. Gretchen Christine Rossi from Real Housewives of Orange County also uses the app.

Militi has bootstrapped the company since its founding in 2014. He would not reveal how much he has invested in the company; however, the company did receive a $432,000 grant from Microsoft’s BizSpark program to help with setting up their servers and software.

Militi said the company will monetize the app through advertising and selling user analytics – age, gender and location – to companies for market research. Eventually, that will provide companies with user profiles developed from their question history.

“A lot of businesses would love to be able to identify their core customer and hand them a really strong offer which the customer would love as well, but the problem is they can’t find them so they have to do a less than perfect offer because they know there’s going to be people that will take advantage of that. So there’s waste associated with most advertising,” said

Alanna Markey, 23, the company’s director of brand development. “This would avoid that waste so they can actually give a stronger offer in the end anyway, so it’s better for the business.”

The company plans to use the app in places such as Angel Stadium of Anaheim and provide coupon codes and alerts for answering questions in certain areas. Already, the app has been used for contests and in employee surveys by human resource departments.

Preparing to move to a new office in Kearny Mesa, the company has 10 core members who work on the app and six who do testing, question monitoring and question verification.

“While this [growth] is fantastic, we’re relentless about what we’re doing and we’re going to always be cautiously optimistic, stay humble as part of our strategy and keep making it a great experience,” Militi said.

The company is already creating spin-off apps, including Zip Dating App, Zip for Kidz, “Who’s in the bar?” and Zip Connections App.


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