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VINEYARD, Utah County — Garrett Gee is an unlikely technology entrepreneur.
After serving an LDS Church mission, Gee enrolled at BYU in 2011, eventually majoring in industrial design.
The Utah County native bought his first smartphone and was downloading apps that he felt might be useful. One app of particular interest to him was designed to scan and read UPC barcodes used to purchase virtually every retail product available.
“I downloaded a specific app, but it was quite ugly and I didn’t like it,” said Gee, 26, “so I deleted it and tried to find a different one that would do barcode scanning the way I wanted it to.”
As it happened, he was unable to find one to his liking, so he thought, “Maybe I should try to design a scanning app that is better … and faster.”
Gee spent the next six months working to develop a more user-friendly mobile scanning application. He also recruited two classmates, Ben Turley and Kirk Ouimet, to lend their expertise to his endeavor.
“They were both older and more experienced than I was, and technically (advanced),” Gee said.
About three months later, the trio had completed the app. It was made available on iTunes where it was downloaded more than once per second, knocking “Angry Birds” off the App Store top 10 chart.
Not bad for a first foray into application development.
“I remember that very exciting day when something I had built was on the real-life App Store,” Gee said. “I thought that was so cool.”
Though the app was highly rated, it initially didn’t result into much in the way of remuneration because it was free to download. But the company, Scan Inc., raised more than $8 million in investor funding over the next two years and was able to upgrade the original app by adding “much-requested features,” Gee said, and it became a paid app costing $2 per download.
“It became the No. 1 paid app in our category in the entire world,” he said.