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IU grad creates app to help families earn cash back by making healthier choices

Karen Frame developed an app called Makeena that instantly connects users to affordable, healthier foods and eco-friendly products.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — An IU grad is finding success after developing an app that pays users for the things they buy and helps make healthier choices for their family.

Karen Frame, who grew up the Midwest, launched the "Makeena" app to not only help shoppers make money but to help the environment.

"I have been in and out of the natural products industry for many years," Frame said. "We just took whatever you could have found at a whole food store but you could buy it anywhere at Thrive Market, Amazon, any of the local stores — even a corner store. We want to give you an incentive to buy these better products so that's what the thinking is about."

The app instantly connects users to affordable, healthier food and eco-friendly products.

"You just start scrolling and discovering new brands," Frame said. "You can actually go into the Makeena portion of the app and get cash back on organics, so everything from biodegradable toilet paper to hand sanitizer to organic apples and oranges. Anything that is good for you and good to the planet is what Makeena is about."

App users can save and get rebates on everything from produce to workout gear to toothpaste — without even purchasing these products on the app.

"What we think and what resonates with a lot of users these days is that you can just buy it anywhere, so as long as you find it on the app," Frame said. "You put it in your shopping list and you can go to your regular store, so you don't have to have a whole bunch of different rewards cards for all your different stores." 

Frame said in order to save and get the rebate, users must scan the barcode and take a snapshot of the receipt. Once you get to $20, you can start cashing out.

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"The other difference between our app and a lot of other things that you see is you actually get points for buying lots of products," Frame said. "You can switch those points out for cash, and sometimes you can get free product. And even if you go to our website, we actually send out free samples."

The company also gives back to environmental nonprofits as a member of 1% for the Planet and partners with other mindful companies.

"So we are very unusual; we focus on better products. So there are some other apps that occasionally have some good products in it, but that's all we do. What we're hoping to be is that when you think of healthy, you think of eco-friendly — so organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, fair trade and certified B Corp," Frame said. "We do lots of different things as an organization that a lot of other companies don't do. We are people, profit and planet. That's probably the best way to say a triple bottom line."

And if you were curious, Makeena means "happiness" in Swahili.