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The Man Behind the “First Intelligent Shopping App”

This holiday season, Technorazzi caught up with Patrick Carter, the visionary and founder of Digital Folio. Digital Folio is a software that tracks prices and comparisons on the fly and it’s hyper-relevant to the shopper’s list. According to Patrick, “for the first time, people are spending more time trying to compare deals and prices online than they are actually going out and shopping in stores.”

Interview with Patrick Carter, Founder of Digital Folio

Technorazzi:  Tell our readers about Digital Folio and how it could help them during this holiday season.

Digital Folio is the next-generation platform for shopping that’s part of your browser, mobile phone, Facebook and—in the future—will be part of your tablet.  It’s the first intelligent shopping app that tracks prices and comparisons for you so you don’t have to constantly make side trips to retailer or comparison shopping sites. Digital Folio also is the first to provide hyper-relevant deals based off of your shopping list or what you’re browsing for.

With prices changing several times a day, it’s impossible for consumers to keep up with prices and deals. But Digital Folio does. “Earlier this year we saw prices change up to seven times in four hours for some retailers. We’ve seen that increase dramatically during the holiday season, with flash sales and daily deals and price changes by every retailer on an almost daily basis,” said Patrick Carter.

For the first time, people are spending more time trying to compare deals and prices online than they are actually going out and shopping in stores. There’s a little bit of euphoria around finding the best deals, and Digital Folio makes that even more easy and fun to do.

 

Technorazzi:  Wow, that’s fascinating. How is it doing?

Patrick: 

Great. Number one, we’re busy expanding the number of smart categories and retailers for automatic comparisons and promotions. Second, we’re launching our trial promotion for 25-83% off select toys at Target.com, called our Holiday Hot List promotion, which runs December 12 through December 22.  And lastly, we’re getting ready to launch Digital Folio mobile over the next couple months on three different platforms: iPhone, Windows Phone 7, and Android.

 

Technorazzi:  That’s fantastic. Are you overwhelmed right now with the holidays?

 

Patrick: 
Just incredibly busy given all that we have going on with categories, retailers, promotions, mobile platforms, and the fact as a business we’ve just started to introduce this new shopping paradigm that we say is like an iPod for shopping. If you think of how the iPod transformed the way you listen to your favorite songs, it meant you no longer had to cobble together a mixed tape of favorite songs spread across radio stations.

With Digital Folio, shoppers no longer have to constantly cobble together prices and comparisons and deals spread across the web and the retail space. It’s like taking the chaos of retail and putting it on the head of a pin so shoppers can be one click away from an informed answer, with a lot less noise and effort. So all that has kept us incredibly busy but energized because shoppers are telling us what we’re doing  is sorely needed.  —Patrick Carter

 

Technorazzi:  How do you handle it when you have too much to do in too short of time?

Patrick: 

Patrick with Microsoft Associates at Digital Folio event


It really comes down to prioritization and the ability to rely on a talented team and to execute on what we need to do.

 

Technorazzi:  Okay I have to ask this. What do you love about working with your developers?

Patrick: A lot. A big part of it hinges on the fact my career started in the development area, so I appreciate having a very talented team that doesn’t think the impossible is impossible or is willing to try to accomplish the impossible. Some of the best features of Digital Folio that we get the most compliments on started out with us saying “What is impossible to do to solve a shopping problem?” One example of this is the ability to compare entire listing pages of products at once, which no one has been able to do, and have comparison and tracking and promotions happen dynamically as you shop.

 

Working with Patrick is rewarding on many different levels. He challenges status quo thinking and always tries hard to find the best solution to exceed the expectations of our customers. His constant questioning keeps every day full of exciting new problems to solve in our close-knit team.   —Fernando Cardenas, Digital Folio Chief Architect

                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Technorazzi:  Which was more important for you in your role as the founder of Digital Folio – your technical background or your creativity?

Patrick: 
This is one of the best interview questions I’ve been asked. I guess I’ll have to go with what would probably be a strange answer in terms of my technical background: My technical background taught me that anything is possible and that drives my creativity. That also might drive the developers who work with me crazy, but having a very deep technical  background that includes work with AT&T and with Bell Labs’ operating system development freed up my creativity.

 

Technorazzi:  Wow, that seems like a good formula for success in the tech world. In what way did your childhood influence your success today?

Patrick: 
It influenced it a lot because I was an Air Force brat and I came from a family that really focused on hard work and contribution, and those lessons led to early successes first in Junior Achievement in high school, then as a  four-year scholar at Syracuse University, and in my 20s as I advanced through the ranks at AT&T. In a Bizspark interview earlier this year I said my mother taught me there is no substitute for hard work and family. She was right.

Technorazzi:  That’s so true.  As long as we’re on the topic of families, tell me, in what way does your wife contribute to your success?

Patrick: 
Quite frankly in every way in terms of uniquely contributing to the business and the marketing and promotional pieces we do, keeping the family running on all cylinders while I’m tied up with work, plus what’s most important: moral support. She helped from the start just by embarking on what by definition is a  hard journey or a complex journey.

 

Technorazzi: (to Patrick’s wife Karen)  What’s it like living with Patrick?

 

Life with Patrick has always been full of surprises, but living with him as he’s laid the groundwork for Digital  Folio, seen it through challenging times, and now shares the tremendous achievements of his team has been pretty amazing. Patrick is a driven, competitive, and brilliant person, but he also has a terrific sense of humor that helps everyone around him cope with even the toughest challenges.    Karen Carter

 

Technorazzi:  Patrick, obviously you’re extremely busy, but when you do have a free moment, what are your hobbies?

Patrick: 
Currently there’s not much time for hobbies but in the past I’ve enjoyed skiing, sailing, and wine collecting. My favorite thing to do these days is watch a movie with my daughters, who like to critique films.

Patrick with Microsoft Azure Executives at Digital Folio Event

 

Technorazzi: Come on, tell us at least one fun thing you did in the past week.

Patrick: 
I was the only parent doing the wave for my seventh-grader when we went to watch my fifth-grader be a sheep (that shed cotton balls) in a school Christmas play. My seventh-grader was mortified, of course, so I felt I’d done my duty as dad of a young teenager.

 

Technorazzi: Haha! That’s funny.  Patrick, you’re such an idea person, tell our readers where / how you get your best ideas?

Patrick: 
I’ve gotten my best ideas when I’ve put myself in the shoes of our users. Just being a customer and shopper helps, but also having the one additional capability to say “What if I could of make anything happen as a shopper?” And then having a team and a business built around making that happen. Putting yourself in your users’ shoes is key.

Digital Folio had its catalyst to formation stem out of the work we did early on for retailers as a services and research company. We did a lot of strategy, had people ride along with FedEx drivers, did home shopping studies of Best Buy customers, monitored store interactions, etc. and those things give you tools and data points and clarity to see how repetitive and obstructive some customer experiences are, and what impediments exist to shopping. There’s something about getting validation outside yourself that there’s a problem that others experience that allows you to mobilize the business and related expenditures around solving it.

Technorazzi:  Who are your heros in the tech world?

Patrick: 
I respect different people for different reasons, everyone from Dennis Ritchie on the Unix side to Steve Jobs as an impassioned visionary to Bill Gates in terms of balancing a business and innovation to Martin Scorsese around the impact of subtlety on emotion and thus human behavior. All those things come together to impact consumer attitude and behavior.

Technorazzi: Anything else you want people to know?

Patrick: Digital Folio is more about a mission to empower shoppers than it is a particular product. Because of that, it’s pretty ambitious but the return will be well worth it for shoppers, retailers, and for our business.

 

Patrick with Microsoft Azure Executives at Digital Folio Event

Holiday Hot List – Check out Digital Folio.

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