In a pickle? There's a (locally made) app for that

The new Pickle iPhone app, developed in Memphis, lets users crowdsource decisions that have them in a pickle, from fashion choices to profile photos for social media. Entrepreneur and Rhodes College student Evan Katz cites his frustration over his lack of fashion sense as the inspiration for the app, which made its debut on the iTunes app store last week.
"I wanted a way when I was buying clothes in the dressing room to be able to easily figure out which clothes looked best on me," says Evan Katz, Pickle Co-founder and CEO. "Pickle evolved into an app for gathering fast group opinion in order to crowdsource any decision you are trying to make in your life, and the whole thing is powered by a game where users are trying to guess popular opinion."
 
The free-to-download app gives users a fast-paced voting experience where they are presented between two and four user-uploaded images and then vote on the image they think will be the most popular. By successfully guessing the crowd's collective opinion, users are rewarded with points that can be then spent on receiving more crowd feedback on photos they upload in the future.
 
"The idea originally was for something much smaller and different. We set out to build an app that was really geared toward high school girls to help them get fashion advice," Katz explains. "Beta users really liked the app a lot, but they didn't want to use it just for fashion. So we kind of stumbled into this market that was much larger than we anticipated of people wanting to get feedback on all aspects of their life in an easy way."
 
At the same time, Katz and Pickle Co-founder Morgan Steffy simultaneously realized Pickle was a good tool for brands to be able to reach college and high school audiences.
 
"The bulk of our revenue is going to come from extending this platform to brands," Katz says. "It's a great way for brands to cost-effectively run surveys and do more-effective advertising."
 
However, he stresses that Pickle will not have in-app pop-up ads.
 
Katz moved to Memphis from Boston three years ago to attend Rhodes College, and he became involved with the StartCo. accelerator program through his work with the non-profit that he co-founded last year--The Bridge street newspaper, which benefits the homeless.
 
"Although StartCo. was working with us in a non-profit sense, I saw them also working with a lot of for-profit tech start-ups with the ultimate goal of turning Memphis into an ecosystem or a hub for entrepreneurs and start-up companies," says Katz, who next year will be a Rhodes senior with a business major and creative writing minor. "They helped connect us to the community and provided mentors, connections and our initial funding. We've learned an incredible amount and have come a very long way with their help since the training program started in May."
 
Katz met Steffy, a computer developer, while studying abroad in Ecuador. Steffy and a small tech team handle all of the building of the app, and Katz works on business development, customer relations and marketing strategies.
 
Pickle received $15,000 in seed funding from StartCo. after graduating from their program earlier this month.
 
"Now we're trying to bring on a first round of follow-up capital that will allow us to grow our company here in Memphis, hire full-time developers and begin fully growing our user base to really make us into a full-fledged company that brings talent here to stay," Katz says. "We're very excited to be a part of the Memphis start-up ecosystem. I've seen a huge sense of momentum happen in the time that I've been in Memphis, and we're hoping to be a huge part of that in the next couple of years."

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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