Start-up of the Week / Shopping Smart With Your Phone

A new app from Israeli start-up Saverr scans your receipts and does the price comparison for you.

In this era of cottage-cheese protests, housing protests and tighter-than-ever wallets, bargains matter. But time is also valuable, and keeping track of which stores have the best deals is complicated and can be difficult.

Enter Saverr, an Israeli firm which just last week launched an app to do the price comparison for you.

It's simple: After loading up on groceries, use your smartphone to scan your receipt. Saverr scans and catalogues all of your purchases, and the next time you stock up, will use the data to offer you a detailed price comparison. Never get fleeced again.

"We demand a minimal effort from the consumer - one click on the camera," says Roy Yair, the product manager. "In the final analysis, this type of social project succeeds or fails at the point where the user's contribution becomes a nuisance for him."

They have made it as easy as possible. Shop, snap, save. The app interprets your receipts and catalogues them by store of purchase, date and hour. It identifies products, quantities and special offers.

When the user has a particularly long receipt that requires two or three photos, Saverr can identify duplicated lines and will present only the products that were purchased.

Saverr's new app is currently only available to Android smartphone users in the U.S. whose camera phones have a resolution of at least three megapixels, but an iOS version is expected in another month. It is currently being tested on focus groups in Boston, where it has about 300 users. It will be available in Israeli in about another year.

The app was developed by four Israeli entrepreneurs with a long history in high-tech. Their efforts are being bolstered by three private investors: entrepreneur Jeff Pulver, who in the past invested in Twitter and FourSquare, Oded Caspi of the Micro Angel Fund and Itzik Levy, one of the founders of Kidaro, which was sold to Microsoft.

The team estimates they need about $750,000 to $1 million in additional funds, and says one of the investors has already agreed to offer additional backing.
When they are ready to break into the Israeli market, the team will face different challenges than they did in the U.S.

"The Israeli market is small, and consumer behavior in Israel differs from that in the U.S.," says CEO Eyal Yair. "In the U.S. people clip coupons every Sunday morning and divide purchases among three supermarkets, because it pays to do that. Americans are also willing to travel very far in order to save a dollar, and that's why it looks like a market that will be easy to penetrate. But we really hope to get to Israel too. It's a matter of resources - we're planning to start in Israel within 10 months."