If doing what you love is the key to success, then Montclair State University School of Business student Meghavi Kanani is on the right track. Combining her two passions—shopping and business—Kanani is part of a team that has developed an innovative new app that makes it easy to find and redeem store discount coupons. The idea for the app grew out of discussions at a venture capital conference in 2010 between Kanani and Stanford University students Rebecca Hinds, Suril Shah, and Jose Vieitez, who had already established the company Piccolo Technologies, Inc. for a rewards and loyalty card storage app when Kanani met them.
The app, known as Melt, eliminates the need to print and clip coupons by storing up to 500 coupons and allowing discounts to be redeemed at the point of sale with a click and a scan of the bar code.
“We chose the name Melt because the app ’melts‘ couponing with store rewards and loyalty program cards,” says Kanani, 19, a senior studying for a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration who’s getting real-life experience as the start-up company’s vice president of business development. “People don’t have to carry around plastic cards anymore. The number is stored on their phone and the cashier can scan it,” she adds.
Kanani herself is an enthusiastic user of the service: “I used a 20 percent-off coupon to buy a dress and pair of shoes at Macy’s last week and saved 40 dollars,” she says.
New Jersey is the fledgling company’s test market, with about 500 retailers joining Melt so far, including many in Montclair. Coupons from national name brands, such as Macy’s, Aeropostale, and Barnes & Noble, are also supported.
The group from Stanford, which also includes veteran software developers Amit Patel and Anish Jhaveri, handles operations and technology, while Kanani’s job is marketing and business development. She lines up retailers, particularly in college towns, and helps promote the app. “My team members and I are targeting college students initially because we’re college students and it’s a demographic we know. College students eat out a lot and they shop. This app can save them money,” she says.
Kanani credits Montclair State and the knowledge she gained from courses in Finance and Marketing—including financing tactics for start-up ventures, marketing plan development, accounting practices, positioning concepts, and marketplace information—as extremely useful in preparing her for her new business role.
The next step for the young entrepreneurs (all in their 20s except for Kanani) is to expand the app’s geographic scope and to extend the service to other phones and devices. The app, which is available at Apple’s iTunes store, is free for consumers and retailers now, but Kanani says fees for businesses only will be added later.
After Kanani graduates in December 2012, she plans to work for the company full time and is also thinking about pursuing a graduate degree in business. Naturally, she hopes the company will be very successful. “We are very confident that we will make an impact,” she says. “Working on this is something that’s always going to stay with me.”