Technology Innovations in Grocery Retail

By: Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations, FMI

In the dynamic world of tech innovation, the driving force behind groundbreaking solutions often comes from visionary founders with diverse backgrounds and experiences. The three finalists of the FMItech Pitch Contest—Grocery Shopii, GreenChoice and Augmodo—each boast a founder with a unique story and a shared commitment to transforming the retail landscape.

Katie Hotze - CEO and Founder of Grocery Shopii

At the helm of Grocery Shopii is Katie Hotze, a seasoned entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in digital marketing, data analytics and business strategy. Hotze's journey with Grocery Shopii began with a personal frustration with online grocery shopping, which she transformed into a nationally recognized tech disruptor rapidly expanding in North America.

Recognized as one of RIS's Top 10 Women in Grocery Tech, Hotze holds an M.B.A. from William & Mary and a B.S. in Marketing from Virginia Commonwealth University. Actively contributing to the industry, she is a member of the FMI Technology Leadership Council and the Western Michigan University Food Marketing Program board. Hotze's passion for technology and commitment to improving the online grocery shopping experience make her a driving force behind Grocery Shopii's success.

Galen Karlan-Mason - Founder and CEO of GreenChoice

Galen Karlan-Mason, the visionary founder and CEO of GreenChoice, brings a personal touch to his mission of providing a personalized healthy shopping experience. Growing up in rural Vermont with complex food allergies, Karlan-Mason witnessed the challenges his family faced during weekly trips to the grocery store. His transformative experience with a naturopathic, food-based approach to overcoming allergies shaped his perspective on food.

With a deep understanding of the power of food as medicine, Karlan-Mason founded GreenChoice to offer an affordable solution for regional and independent grocers, enhancing customer experiences both in-store and online. His commitment to ethically sourced, unprocessed foods aligns with GreenChoice's mission to revolutionize grocery shopping.

Ross Finman - Founder of Augmodo

A pioneer in Augmented Reality (AR) and AI technology, Ross Finman, the founder of Augmodo, brings a wealth of experience to the table. Formerly a General Manager at Niantic (makers of Pokemon Go), Finman played a pivotal role in building AR technology used by millions worldwide. His background includes being the CEO and co-founder of Escher Reality, a foundational AR acquisition for Niantic.

A PhD candidate at MIT in Computer Vision and AI, Finman's roots on a llama farm in Idaho underscore his diverse background. His expertise and innovation in AR technology position Augmodo as a frontrunner in transforming the in-store e-commerce picking experience.

While the founders of Grocery Shopii, GreenChoice, and Augmodo come from different walks of life, they share a common thread—a passion for leveraging technology to address real-world challenges and redefine the future of retail. As they take the stage at the FMItech Pitch Contest, their collective vision promises to shape the industry in innovative ways. These trailblazers are gearing up to showcase their innovations at the FMItech Pitch Competition during the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference on Friday, January 19, 2024, from 2:20 to 3:05 pm in the prestigious Banyan Ballroom (L-1). Attendees will vote after the pitches, then the winner will present at the Friday keynote.

FMItech Pitch Finalists

FMItech at Midwinter Executive Conference