When BYU student and soccer player Garrett Gee got his first iPhone, he never dreamed he would eventually create an app worth more than $1 million.
Gee’s app, “Scan,” has attracted investors such as Google Ventures and Lady Gaga. Add the app’s success to his lengthy list of responsibilities as a husband, father, student and member of the BYU men’s soccer team, and it becomes clear that Gee is not the average college student.
“Garrett loves to create new things,” said Jessica Gee, Garrett’s wife. “He likes to make a difference and be a creator in general.”
Gee’s idea for Scan was born during his freshman year at BYU. Smart phones were gaining popularity when Gee returned from his mission to Vladivostok, Russia. Upon buying a smart phone and seeing a QR code for the first time, he became infatuated with the idea of bridging the real and digital worlds together.
But Gee had a problem. He was not technologically savvy and had a hard time operating the websites that could create QR scan codes. He knew he wanted to develop simplified QR code technology, so he taught himself to create websites. Gee practiced and focused on developing web design skills for a year and was then hired by several companies to create websites.
After gaining web design experience, Gee began his work on Scan. He teamed up with two other BYU classmates, Kirk Ouimet and Ben Turley.
“I feel very grateful and fortunate to work with my co-founders, Ben, Kirk and the members of the Scan team,” Gee said. “As the youngest member of the Scan team, I learn so much from the Scan team both inside and outside the business.”
Gee and his team began working on Scan, and in January 2011, the app was introduced to the iTunes App Store. The team’s initial goal was to make $5,000 and have one million downloads in the first year. The app only needed three months to reach those goals.
Scan was an instant success. Although QR codes were already available on Gee’s website and many other sites, people and businesses could now easily create their own QR codes.
Many investors saw Scan as a good opportunity with potential growth and began contacting Gee. During June and July 2011 — just six months after the launch of Scan — Gee made 55 flights to meet with investors around the world, pushing the existing demands of his academic, athletic and social life.
“I wouldn’t mind missing classes, but I never wanted to miss (soccer) practice,” Gee said. “I would schedule my flights to make sure I could be at practice.”
Some of Gee’s initial investors included Google Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Lady Gaga and Jim Pallotta, owner of the Boston Celtics.
In light of the app’s success, Gee moved with his wife to San Francisco, leaving his BYU education and spot on the men’s soccer team behind. The couple lived there for a year before deciding it was in the company’s best interest to move back to Provo.
“Living in San Francisco was really fun, very diverse, and there was a lot of fun things to do,” Jessica Gee said. ” Although I got to enjoy it more with Garrett, he was really busy with work. It was good experience for him business-wise. And it was good for us to spend some time together outside of Provo.”
Gee’s return to BYU allowed him to tryout for his former spot on the men’s soccer team. Growing up loving and playing soccer, Gee said the sport has helped him in his business endeavors because it has fostered his competitive nature. He said soccer taught him how to work hard and achieve goals.
“Gee is a good teammate with a positive outlook,” said Chad Sackett, an assistant coach for the men’s soccer team. “You need someone like that on a team, so it’s good to have him back. When he was first on the team he had to earn his spot, and he’s proven himself over and over again.”
Today, Gee is continuously expanding Scan. Scan is made up of seven employees: three web engineers, three mobile engineers and Gee himself. The app, which is available on Apple, Android and Windows phones, has so far brought in a total of 45 million downloads.