Telling the story of the local Memphis community came naturally to Kontji Anthony as she’d spent the last 17 years building up her career at the anchor desk at the NBC affiliate WMC-TV.
Now, Anthony is writing her own story in the city with the launch of Youdle, a social search engine for those looking for essential grocery items.
The problem Youdle is trying to solve is one all of us are intimately familiar with following the pandemic. When supply of hard-to-find products doesn’t meet demand, customers are left struggling to find alternatives. In order to help shoppers better understand what items are stocked at local stores, the platform aggregates crowdsourced real-time photos with APIs from retailers and small businesses.
This reduces a shoppers environmental impact as they aren’t driving around town for items while helping them navigate any supply chain shortages within their communities.
Youdle – aptly named as an aggregation of you, data, location, and engagement – will ultimately serve both shoppers and retailers. Consumers can quickly get tips on what stores have what essential items while retailers are able to more directly showcase and market what they have on the shelves at any particular moment in time.
The platform is launching its beta version in the coming weeks to “highly motivated shoppers” in the Memphis area, Anthony told Hypepotamus. The business plan will hinge on a freemium subscription and advertising model.
From Private Group To Startup App
The concept for the crowdsourcing app grew out of a private Facebook group called Product Sightings that Anthony and her sisters started during the pandemic. That page grew organically to 34,000 people posting “shelfies” and helping community members figure out what stores had essential items.
Those “shelfies” didn’t just help during Covid shutdowns. The Memphis Youdle community came together to help people find essential items when there was a drinking water shortage in town as well.
Anthony told Hypepotamus that the group gave “very specific moments and insights and data over the last two years” around what shoppers needed at a hyperlocal level.
The success of that group also got Anthony thinking about her next career move.
She decided to move on from journalism earlier this year to pursue Youdle full-time and bring Youdle from a Facebook group to a full-blown, stand alone platform.
“There were limitations [on Facebook] because it’s not made specifically for that one urgent need,” she added.
The career pivot keeps Anthony in Memphis, a city she has called home since 2005.
But building Youdle in Memphis is also a strategic business decision, she told Hypepotamus.
From a logistics perspective, Memphis is also a unique place to be building up such a startup. Home to the world’s second busiest airport-cargo hub, and the fourth-largest inland port.
The team is preparing for growth and is looking to hire a lead engineer. In keeping with its community focus, the team is also raising its first round of investment through Wefunder, a popular crowdfunding platform.