Fetch Rewards Inc., a Madison startup company that has developed an app that streamlines and simplifies grocery shopping, has received a $500,000 loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to help support the growing business.
The Technology Development Loan will be used to help Fetch facilitate the commercialization of its innovative technology, an effort that ultimately could create up to 190 new jobs.
Founded in 2013 by Wes Schroll, at the time a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fetch’s mission is to reinvent the way people grocery shop by improving the convenience and efficiency of the customer experience. After downloading the free app, customers can scan the items they wish to purchase with their phones as they shop. The process eliminates the needless time and energy required to remove items from a cart, scan them and place them back in the cart during the check-out process. Participating stores have numerous checkout lanes that accept Fetch and some even have dedicated Fetch checkout lanes.
The app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, is now being used in 10 test stores, and the company plans to develop partnerships with about 150 new retail stores in 2015. The funding being provided by WEDC will assist with research and development costs associated with the expansion.
“WEDC is pleased to support Fetch Rewards as it works to bring its innovative technology to a growing number of stores across the country,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “This is the type of innovation that we are encouraging with the Technology Development Loan Program, which helps Wisconsin companies overcome some of the challenges that come with bringing new products or concepts to market.”
“We have an amazing team of innovators here at Fetch,” said Schroll, the company’s CEO. “We all share a vision for leaving our mark on the brick-and-mortar industry. This support from WEDC will help us continue to pursue this goal and build a big company right here in Madison."
Lisa Johnson, vice president of Entrepreneurship & Innovation for WEDC, said supporting Fetch is part of an overall strategy to create an environment where young entrepreneurs can advance their ideas and innovations into companies that will be supported as they grow in Wisconsin.
“What’s special about this project is that Wes came here from Massachusetts because of his interest in UW-Madison’s Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship. During his sophomore year, he came up with the idea for Fetch Rewards, and rather than taking this innovation elsewhere, he is showing his commitment to Wisconsin by remaining in the state,” Johnson said. “We look forward to working with him and others in
Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial community as they continue to create and expand their companies.”
In addition to the Technology Development Loan, Fetch Rewards also has received Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) certification of up to $1.25 million from WEDC. The QNBV status makes investors in startup and early-stage companies eligible for a 25 percent tax credit on the amount they invest in the business.
Fetch Rewards has won a total of $170,000 in four business plan competitions, including UW-Madison’s Innovative Minds Challenge and the Wisconsin School of Business’s G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition.
About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. WEDC nurtures business growth and job creation by providing resources, technical support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. WEDC has four focus areas: business and industry development, economic and community development, entrepreneurship and innovation and international business development. Together with more than 600 regional and local business development partners, it represents a highly responsive and coordinated network. Visit www.inwisconsin.com or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.