How A Homeless Man Created A Million-Dollar App That Helps Businesses And Consumers


By Robert Stitt

Ali Abdulla grew up poor and even lived on the streets. He went between blue-collar jobs and tried stints at college that never worked out. It was during one of his times on the streets that he came up with the idea for a revolutionary new app he named “Claim It!” The app lets people win prizes from big-name companies like Starbucks, Red Bull, GoPro, J. Crew, and Nike.

Along with co-founders Kaza Razat and Khalid Mills, Abdulla found support for the app in senior management from Blackstone, Saks, and even pro athletes like NBA star Al Harrington and NFL great Nate Burleson. The app has raised over $2 million is funding.

The theory behind the Claim It! is that millennials are always connected. By using tech to give these consumers an incentive to get out there and discover new places and products, advertisers will have wisely used their money. Statistics show that 90 percent of those using Claim It! are millennials. According to Abdulla, “First and foremost, you are able to reach an engaged mobile community and for retailers they can start these relationships.”

Users claim special offers that are presented by way of the app. When they complete the offer, they are entered into a drawing for bigger prizes. “You can kick start these relationships with people by giving them free stuff. We are taking it to a whole new level,” says Abdullah. Recently, Sprint gave away selfie sticks and Mophie power charging packs.

What has the overall success of the app looked like so far? Abdulla says that since launching in January of 2015, they have given away over 6,000 prizes in New York.

According to a Claim It! press release, it works like this:

  • Download Claim it! on your iPhone (application download is free from the Apple App Store)
  • Register once with just a phone number (no name or email required)
  • Winners are drawn every Sunday and notified via SMS notifications
  • Winners will receive a unique code and have one week to claim their prize
  • Locate a Claim it! truck, scan your code, and redeem your prize
  • Anyone can use their weekly claim to automatically win and redeem a low-value item (drinks, snacks, etc.) when in range of the truck’s iBeacon
  • Incredible items every week of things people really want (not samples)