by Randall Gee
Pacific graduate Darin Alpert is involved in the app "Find Me Gluten Free," a Yelp-like program that helps people find restaurants and grocery stores that carry gluten-free foods.
Pacifican Seizes Entrepreneurial OpportunityDarin Alpert ‘08 plays a key role in advancing the most downloaded app for gluten-free options
Darin Alpert '08 had a tough decision to make when he was offered an enticing proposition to be part of an entrepreneurial investment. The opportunity was a risk that he was not sure he was willing to take, especially since he had a full-time job with benefits.
But after careful thought and a push from his family, he took a leap of faith.
So, what was this risky business venture? It was a key role in the popular phone app Find Me Gluten Free, a "Yelp-like" program for smart phones that helps people locate and read reviews of gluten-free restaurants and shops.
Alpert was recently offered a position to oversee sales and marketing as the chief operating officer for the company. It was a challenging move, he said, but one that he was confident about, thanks to his education at University of the Pacific.
"Pacific taught me to ask why and be inquisitive," said Alpert, who earned a degree in Sports Management. "Pacific allowed me to dive into learning about anything and everything, giving me the expertise to feel confident in taking risks."
Learn more about the gluten-free movement and about other Pacificans involved in the community more
Pacific Provides a Path to Success
Alpert's alma mater put him on a path that would connect him to Find Me Gluten Free. During his first few weeks as a student at Pacific, Alpert met Brett Manning '08, and the two became best friends.
Years later, Manning had a connection to Jason Elmore, the creator of Find Me Gluten Free, and knew he needed help with sales and marketing. So Manning passed Alpert's name along, and last February, Elmore brought him on as a partner.
Find Me Gluten Free originated in 2010 when Elmore, who has Celiac disease and therefore cannot digest gluten, had difficulties finding places to safely eat. Elmore used his professional skills as a software developer to create the app that helps users locate gluten-free eating options in the United States and Canada.
The business got a major boost recently after attracting the attention of business magnate Mark Cuban. Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Cuban Investment Companies, is a partner in Naked Pizza, a gluten-free restaurant. He sought out Elmore and Alpert to get Naked Pizza's locations featured in their app.
The request led to Cuban investing in the app, moving the business to a new level.
Find Me Gluten Free is the most downloaded gluten-free app. The program has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.
Alpert believes that his success, which he says was fostered at Pacific, can be replicated with hard work and dedication.
"My advice to incoming freshman is to take advantage of every possible opportunity to learn about business that comes their way at Pacific," said Alpert. "I attribute my success to the skills I learned and the opportunities that came before me in my time spent as a Pacific Tiger."
For more information about Find Me Gluten Free, visit http://www.findmeglutenfree.com
To download the app, visit the Apple App Store at http://www.apple.com/itunes/ or the Android App Collection at https://play.google.com/store?hl=en.