NEW YORK — Launching a new application is never easy, as TPM’s own PollTracker app developers can attest, but the launch story of New York City-based Ministore may take the cake when it comes to sheer adversity: The new iPhone app, which seeks to allow users the ability to rapidly list for-sale items directly from their smartphone by taking a picture of said objects and posting them on to a user’s social networks, was coincidentally approved by the Apple App Store on Monday, October 29, the same night that superstorm Sandy made landfall on the city, where Ministore’s co-founders live and work.
“We got approved Monday afternoon and lost our power just a couple hours later,” said co-founder Geoff Grandberg in a phone interview with TPM. “It wasn’t until Friday night that I got power back. We were living in a bubble.”
Grandberg said that during the intervening days, he and fellow Ministore co-founder and engineer Rendall Koski, who both live in Lower Manhattan — where the brunt of the nearly week-long blackout took place — resorted to borrowing computers from random patrons at Starbucks higher up in the powered zone to maintain their app and conduct interviews with press and business partners.
“I was getting emails from people asking me about different pieces of the app and our website,” during the blackout, Grandberg told TPM.
The diligence paid off — Ministore is up to over 1,000 downloads so far, Grandberg said.
Despite all of the headaches in launching the app, Grandberg said he still took the time to volunteer at a Hurricane Sandy relief effort through Brooklyn’s Red Hook Initiative.
“All in all we were pretty lucky,” Grandberg told TPM.
Grandberg said that he and Koski built Ministore using a $60,000 fundraising round, but that the app began life as a much more complicated, desktop online sales platform. He said that the decision to focus on a more simplified iPhone app was inspired partly by the success of Instagram, the popular photo sharing app acquired by Facebook in April for a cool $1 billion dollars.
Ministore also makes money from listing its own for-sale items in user’s feeds. It doesn’t take a commission from individual users’ own for-sale items, at least not yet. Grandberg told TPM he was working on raising more funds from angel investors and venture capitalists and releasing an Android version of the app in the near future.