Shannon Nickinson: Pensacola produces app designers, but it can’t keep them


 Pensacola native Paul Sheaffer had the perfect app-developer experience.

If only he could have had it in Pensacola.

Sheaffer, with his brother Chase and their co-worker Marvin Paul, developed Out of Milk, a shopping app that allows users to create shopping lists that can be shared among users.

They began work on it in Pensacola while working for Overgroup Consulting, a software development company. But they moved to San Francisco to get the boost they needed to make it grow.

Out of Milk remembers what you buy, searches for sales based on your location and allows you to scan a product’s UPC code so that it can track the items you like most.

It is in the Google Play market and the iPhone app store.

And recently the Sheaffers and Paul sold it to InfoScout, a mobile-powered retail market research provider that bought it as part of its Series B financing round — which generated $16 million.

Paul Sheaffer cannot disclose how much the Out of Milk guys made in the transaction, but he does note that acquiring Out of Milk was seen as integral to InfoScout’s efforts to expand their infrastructure.

“Part of the pitch for raising their (Series B funding) was that Out of Milk would drastically increase the number of people they could reach with their targeting,” Sheaffer said.

“It is absolutely ideal. Out of Milk was our project. We started it with practically nothing. It was profitable and with that successful exit, if we decide to start something in the future, we’ve got the track record to show we can produce. It is what every start-up app developer hopes for.”

The app has nearly 1 million users who add 12 million items to their shopping lists every month, thus expressing their purchase intent before they go shopping, according to InfoScout’s news release.

Companies start with angel investors, typically friends and family who invest in a company’s infancy. Series A financing is when a small company gets money from bigger investors for the first time. Series B is the third round of funding, when a company needs more capital or is looking to ramp up its infrastructure. It can include previous investors and new ones.

InfoScout’s Series B financing included participation from Bain Capital Ventures, which led InfoScout’s Series A, as well as Horizon Partners, MHS Capital and multiple strategic investors.

To date, InfoScout has raised $21 million.

InfoScout captures and examines data that shows what people purchase and when and how and why they purchase it.  .

“Previously they had tech where people scan their receipts,” Sheaffer said. “By acquiring us, that gives them a proven platform with a lot of users and they will develop it and expand it. The app itself is extremely good at what it does.”

InfoScout’s client list includes Procter & Gamble, Anheuser-Busch, Unilever, PepsiCo, Kraft, Nestle, and others. These clients leverage InfoScout’s path-to-purchase insights to guide brand innovation efforts, optimize their marketing mix during product launches, and course-correct promotional campaigns, according to the news release.

It is great news for Sheaffer, who now lives in Raleigh, N.C., writing software. So does his brother.

But I can’t help but wish their little old hometown was a more welcoming environment for them — and others just like them.

We are making strides in building our community’s culture of support for technology-based enterprises that trade in intellectual capital.

But it is worth noting that the company where the Sheaffers and Marvin Paul met, Overgroup, moved to the Atlanta area because founder Ross Overstreet needed an environment where like-minded folks were easier to reach out and touch.

The Sheaffers’ success is awesome for them.

If Pensacola could keep folks like the Sheaffers and Overstreet around longer, maybe we can share in a smidgen of their reflected awesomeness.

Shannon Nickinson is the editor of, a news and commentary website in Pensacola. Follow her at Her column appears courtesy of ContextFlorida.

Shannon Nickinson


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