December 8, 2014
An up-and-coming technology company co-founded by 2001 Drury alumnus Nathan Pettyjohn is making holiday shopping a little easier for many this year.
Aisle411 is an in-store mobile marketing platform that allows shoppers to search and navigate products and offers within a store. It also helps retailers and brands by decreasing the number of store walkouts by frustrated customers who cannot find the product they are looking for. Pettyjohn says that retailers can lose a substantial amount of sales from these walkouts.
“The light bulb moment came when I was in a home improvement store — I was looking for a surge protector — and 3 associates sent me in 3 different directions,” Pettyjohn said. “I became so frustrated at the wasted time and thought, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be cool if I could create Google Maps in retail stores?’”
Aisle411 received early support from the Springfield Angel Network through the Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at Drury University, as well as other angel investor groups. Since its 2008 founding, the company has raised more than $10 million in venture capital. Toys ‘R’ Us and Walgreens are two of the retailers currently working with aisle411.
Pettyjohn said he has had an “entrepreneurial buzz” since he was a kid, and even had his own lawn mowing business when he was a teenager. His college professors also encouraged creativity and innovative thinking.
“My professors always said that you need to think about the next wave of marketing—it’s all going to change,” Pettyjohn said. “My background and education played a critical role in molding me into this thinking.”
The future of aisle411 looks bright. A growth plan is in place for the company to expand globally and use more retail analytics about shopper location, which will allow retailers to understand aisle traffic and establish the value on every shelf.
“The vision is to create this whole new, in-store media network,” said Pettyjohn.
Pettyjohn, who was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award in October, credits his three years on Drury’s AD Team to helping him assess real world problems and find creative solutions with marketing.
“Starting this company has been really fun,” said Pettyjohn. “Drury definitely played a role in my success now.”
Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, a senior English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.