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FriendCoup aims for billion $ coupon network


SAN MATEO -- To build a billion-dollar technology company, it helps to have a team which has done it before.
Carl Kent, CEO of MyMediaTones Inc., has reached the threshhold of disrupting the $7 billion coupon market.   The signature product FriendCoup just debuted on the Apple App Store for the iPhone, and Android Marketplace.
The application is an in-store, mobile bar code reader that scans product packages, pulls (vs. pushes ) matching coupons, competing offers,  and calculates real time discounts based on shopping behavior.  Kent projects close to 85 percent redemption, compared to a rate of 1 percent for paper coupons and almost 10 percent for current mobile couponing.
Both Target and Proctor & Gamble have tested the technology.   One executive said, "The team at FriendCoup has a transformational technology that will change the mobile couponing business just like Groupon has done for group buying and Facebook for social networking. "
Kent can confidently pursue those goals.   The vice president and chief technology officer is Dr. Mark Hannah, a co-founder of Silicon Graphics and fellow high school and college classmate of Kent's.   Silicon Graphics transformed the entertainment industry with scientific workstations in the 1980s and achieved $5 billion in sales.   Its core technology was based on Hannah's electrical engineering dissertation from Stanford University.  Hannah was selected a Kilby laureate in 1995 along with World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee.  The Kilby Awards recognize the world's top inventors.
When Kent participated in the Catapult Innovation Competition launch last January 15 at the Innovation & Equity Symposium for the 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology, he shared his plans with some of the top African-American technology leaders in the world.
The environmental impact is another appeal of the technology.  Kent said, "The current U.S. paper model annually distributes 367 billion coupons, consumes 25 million trees, with 99% going to landfills. China is in line to distribute 1.5 trillion paper coupons, destroying 111 million trees per year."
The latest milestone is a contract with Catalina Marketing, the dominant coupon delivery brokerage.
On Tuesday, Aug. 2, National Black Business Month suggests trying out African-American online businesses like FriendCoup, a noun which is likely to become a verb in the very near future.

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