DANVILLE -- Nine years after he walked away from the tech world following abject tragedy, Bob Pack has returned.
His startup company has developed a mobile phone app, called Shop O'Lot, that he hopes will improve the way people shop.
Pack hasn't worked in technology since 2003, when his two young children were killed by a driver under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs. Since then, he and his wife Carmen have focused their attention on their organization, The Troy and Alana Pack Foundation.
Troy, 10, and Alana, 7, were killed on Camino Tassajara when a car jumped the curb and struck them and Carmen. Former nanny Jimena Barreto was convicted of second-degree murder in the children's deaths.
Since the tragedy, the Packs have been advocates for education, legislation and enforcement regarding driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The years passed, and they had another child. Then, Pack started getting the itch to get back into business.
"The idea came to me about two years ago," he said. "Developing an app is not complicated. The front end is pretty simple to do -- the visual and pages. The back-end software -- to figure all that out is fairly complicated."
He assembled a team of six software developers and has been working on the app for the past year.
"It's nice to have my mind focused on something fun," Pack said. "It can be stressful, but I like technology and what it can do."
His free app gives real-time coupons and discounts over your phone based on your profile and shopping history while you shop at major retailers.
Say, you like a certain style of casual sportswear. As you walk through Macy's, the Shop O'Lot app will suggest a 20 percent coupon on a Tommy Bahama shirt. You can also share shopping profiles that will allow you to find deals on products your spouse, kids or friends might like as gifts.
The app works at more than 6,000 stores belonging to Macy's, Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, Land's End and UK-based Tesco. Pack said more retailers are in the works. The app makes money through advertising that is embedded in product recommendations and through commissions when coupons are redeemed in stores.
In the late '90s, Pack was the vice president of sales at NetZero at the height of the tech boom. When his stock vested, he cashed out and left the company. He is using his savings and earnings in the stock market to finance Shop O'Lot.
"It's a big risk," he said. "It's full-time work. I'm so excited and anxious to get it out and have it do something."
He is now planning a nationwide publicity push and will seek venture capital.
"I like having something to do all the time," Pack said. "I'm working with some really great engineers. I feel like I'm a part of something, so it's really fulfilling."
For more information or to download Shop O'Lot, visit www.shopolot.com.
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com- /Jason_Sweeney.
Bob Pack's mobile phone app, Shop O'Lot, gives you real-time shopping recommendations and discounts while you walk through major retailers. It is available for free on iPhones and Android phones. To download Shop O'Lot, visit: www.shopolot.com.