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Seniors create Facebook app, connect consumers

Anna Boarini | Thursday, October 25, 2012

Seniors Robb Crow and Kyle Kober never thought a summer wakeboarding trip would create a friendship that changed their career paths. The two met while they were interning in New York City between their sophomore and junior years.

“At a Notre Dame networking event, Kyle invited me to go wakeboarding on Long Island, so I stayed at his house for a few days before getting to really know him,” Crow said. “Ever since then, we’ve been best buddies.”

Soon after the two became friends, they decided to create ShopTalk, a Facebook application that provides discounts for online shoppers who post their purchases on their Facebook pages.

“ShopTalk … allows retailers to tap their online shoppers’ social networks through our unique plug-in application,” Kober said. “By placing our plug-in on the checkout screen, shoppers can post their purchases to their Facebook networks’ news feeds and instantaneously receive a discount provided by the retailer before payment.”

Kober brainstormed the initial idea while working at a venture capital firm specializing in e-commerce and retail space, Crow said.

“After a few late-night Skype sessions and a few weeks of convincing me, I came on board and we finalized the idea together, creating ShopTalk,” he said.

ShopTalk’s design drives traffic to retailers by linking both the purchased products and fan page of the retailer to the post, Kober said.

“This process is simple and automatic for the shopper, only requiring them to sign up for ShopTalk with Facebook,” he said. “Ultimately, our mission is to save you money when shopping online, while promoting the interesting products and brands you find on Facebook.”

While creating a Facebook application is not simple, Kober said the process has been quick. The pair started development in September.

“We are now one month away from our beta launch in which we’ll have a select 25 retailers running the application on their sites,” Kober said. “Both of us don’t have an expertise in software or coding so we’ve been working closely with a team of developers based in New York City to make the idea a reality.”

Thus far, the only investors in ShopTalk are Crow and Kober’s close friends and family.

“We are in the process of raising an angel round [second round of investors], and are aiming to close the round by early December this year,” he said. “We are finding angels through our connections here at ND and also through one of our advisers in New York.”

Crow said neither senior imagined they would be involved in entrepreneurship after graduation.

“A year ago if you asked both of us what we wanted to do after graduation our answers would have been investment banking or private equity,” he said. “We have had more passion working on ShopTalk than we have had in any of our previous finance internships.”

The Facebook app will not be the end of the friends’ business partnership, Crow said.

“Our discount sharing app is a stepping stone for bigger and better things for ShopTalk,” he said. “At the beginning of next year we will begin phase two of development, creating a desktop and mobile app for our users.”