Need Anything?

Need Anything? app
Courtesy of Need Anything?

No one likes robo-calls, but what if an app automatically reached out to a family member to let them know you had just entered a grocery store or a pharmacy?

It would alleviate a return trip to a merchant, and could quite possibly save the day for a sick child or another member of a household who forgot to buy a key ingredient for their recipe. 

Eyeing an opportunity, Sheldon Cohn, a veteran Detroit advertising creative executive turned entrepreneur, created an app called Need Anything? that automatically alerts a user’s selected contacts that they’ve entered a store. From there, the app initiates a chat conversation.

“The idea struck me four or five years ago, standing in line at a pharmacy,” Cohn recalls. “I wondered why my phone can’t just tell my wife where I am, instead of me having to call or text her? Then she could tell me what she wanted.”

While the app is free for users, Cohn plans to drive revenue by charging stores $30 per month to be included in the app. In return, participating merchants receive a beacon that detects when a user has entered the store. They also get access to a dashboard of analytics that will help with the store’s marketing efforts.

So far, more than a dozen stores, including CVS Pharmacy, Kroger, and Westborn Market locations, and between 1,200 and 1,500 consumers, are putting the app through its early paces.