Katrina Scotto di Carlo
Katrina Scotto di Carlo pioneered Supportland, a buy-local incentives program, to keep commerce within city limits. The social technology helps Portland, Ore., businesses connect with their customers so they both benefit from money spent in their neighborhoods.
“We were being interviewed at a local coffee shop when Michael got a text that we had received our first payment. That moment was really wonderful.”
Browsing Supportland’s website, it’s hard not to feel the personality of its charismatic founder, Katrina Scotto di Carlo, shine through. She confesses she’s “a trained artist and never set out to cultivate the skill set of an entrepreneur,” but acquiring those skills was “an important step personally for moving the company to the next level.” Her artistic background came in handy to create the overall look of Supportland, while the platform itself is supported by an elegant and robust technology developed by Katrina’s co-founder and husband, Michael.
At its simplest level, Supportland rewards customers for local purchases at any participating Portland business with points and local deals. Instead of multiple punch cards for each business, Supportland tallies the points together, letting customers decide where they want to redeem them and allowing a number of vendor-driven marketing opportunities. What sets the program apart, is that it can then aggregate that support for local businesses to have a mass effect beyond just rewarding loyal clientele. The software crunches anonymous user information into consolidated data that lets city officials compare independent business trends to those of larger retailers. This helps level the playing field when it comes to things like weighing the benefits of tax incentives to bring big-box stores to town.
Katrina believes that one of the reasons why her idea is working so well is the region is already a hotbed for community-based economics. By helping independent business advocates prove that smaller players make up not just a thriving segment of the culture but also the economy, Supportland has already begun to affect policy. Orchestrating 100-plus businesses and tens of thousands of card-holders, Katrina’s persuaded even competing businesses to join forces to keep resources within the local economy, and contend with the corporate enterprises that dwarf them when they stand alone. Through Supportland, Katrina is revolutionizing more than just small businesses marketing; she’s altering the economic landscape by allowing independent industry to know and share their most valuable resource: customers.