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Vibe With: Houston teacher grabs global success with app created during pandemic

Written by on August 31, 2021

Before Mitchell McElroy became the founder and CEO of the Speed Shopper app, the Houston man was a “favorite” teacher among students, educating them in the subjects of history and technology. His expertise in technology led him to where he is today.

McElroy was tired of spending hours roaming around grocery stores searching for items so, in 2017, he created an app to make things easier for shoppers. The app went viral during the COVID pandemic and has since garnered global appeal.  Vibe Houston spoke to McElroy about his creation, and how others can turn their talents into lucrative businesses.

Vibe Houston: Did you have experience creating apps prior to creating Speed Shopper?

McElroy: I have over 15 years of web design, web development and coding experience. I created my first website and web-based business in 2002 as a freshman at the University of Houston, but this is the first app that I have ever created.

Vibe Houston: How was your business impacted by the COVID pandemic?

McElroy: I know that most business saw a drastic decline in sales, but I actually saw major growth. The Speed Shopper App went viral during the pandemic and tripled its users.  Shoppers needed alternative ways to shop and a faster way to navigate the aisles. Speed Shopper provided that for them. 

Vibe Houston: So how does the app work and what’s the benefit of using it? 

McElroy: Speed Shopper is a shopping list app that places the items in your list in order by aisle number so that you can get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. Speed Shopper uses crowd sourcing technology to store aisle numbers for every product on your shopping list. The database of aisle numbers is then shared with everyone who uses the app. Our technology then places every item on your list in order by aisle number. Your list then becomes a tool that tells you the exact order to pick up your items so that you are in and out of the store as quickly as possible. 

Vibe Houston: What advice can you give other entrepreneurs?

McElroy: I would say keep going and don’t give up, even if no one else understands the vision. It’s not for everyone else to understand, just as long as you believe in your business model. Also, you have to do the work. As a full-time teacher, father and husband, I had to work on my app when I could. That meant many sleepless nights. It was not easy, and it didn’t happen overnight. I launched in 2017 and, despite many pitfalls, I kept going because I knew that the app was important, not realizing how many people would grow to depend on it during the pandemic. 

Vibe Houston: How can we get the app?

McElroy: The app is available in the Apple ITunes store and the Google Playstore. It’s available to anyone with a cell phone or tablet. 

Here is some more valuable information:

Shoppers are also paid for using the app and there is a merchant market for small retailers who have yet to have success getting their products in major stores. When app users add aisle locations into the app, they will receive gift cards, coupons and other prizes from select merchandisers. 

Currently, the Speed Shopper App has over 20,335 users across 50 US states and has customers in Canada, Australia, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and United Arab Emirates.

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