Tech-savvy, Mobile-based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Generations (BHGRE) recently announced the launch of Homescope, a consumer smartphone app, specifically designed for the Mobile and Baldwin County areas. Regions covered include Mobile, Semmes, Dog River, Daphne, Dauphin Island, Fairhope, Spanish Fort, Foley and Gulf Shores.

“This app makes finding homes, land, commercial property and rentals quick and easy in our local community,” Leighton Dees, CEO of BHGRE said. “Consumers needed a solution that was specifically built for our market, not one that was national. The data is 100 percent accurate due to our direct feed to the MLS, unlike other real estate search apps by third-party companies that often have numerous incorrect listings,”

The app features an “augmented reality search” function, which allows a person to stand in front of any listed property and point a mobile device with the installed app in the property’s direction. Listing details appear on the screen without further information being entered. “The app knows where you are using GPS and the same thing for the listing. This is perfect for riding around collecting info on homes for sale. It’s a lot safer way too,” Joshua Tanner, president of BHGRE Generations said.

Other features include the ability to manually trace a desired search area, full map searches and assigning a preferred agent to allow clients to stay in constant virtual communication with a real estate agent during the search process.

Currently the app is available on the Google Play Store for Android devices and the iPhone App Store for iPhones. Further information can also be found on the company’s Facebook page or website.

Inaugural Coastal Ideas Challenge hosted at Melton Center
The first Coastal Ideas Challenge was hosted recently by the Melton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MCEI). Thirty-two individuals submitted full pitches and mandatory two-minute videos. Nine finalists were selected after two rounds of elimination by judges to get to the finals to win up to $3,500 for top place in each division.

According to Mark Weaver, director of MCEI, the Ideas Challenge was designed to help foster an entrepreneurial mindset in the coastal region.

“Ideas drive new innovations which creates businesses that create jobs,” Weaver said.

Sponsors provided prizes that helped attract the entries. Vicky Wyatt, co-owner of Horizon Trucking, donated $3,500 for the K-12 division. Mike Dow, via the Michael and Patsy Dow Charitable Trust Foundation, donated $5,000. Jacob Knight, owner of SoTEch, provided $1,000 in web design support to all the first-place winners and John Serda of Serda Coffee offered gift cards.

First-place winner in the open division was Magnetic Bliss by Benny Bliss. The product involves magnets put on the metal strips in the ceiling in schools, businesses and offices to hold items such as signs, ads and space dividers.

The top collegiate division award was given to Shelby Raines. The University of South
Alabama business student proposed a model for The Jerky Shack, an idea built on an existing product sold at her family business, Lad and Dads. Plans are to open free-standing kiosks in other stores that market packaged products based on a family recipe.

In the fledgling K-12 division, the overall winner was 12-year-old Braswell McMeans from Gulf Shores, who created a line of natural scrubs and creams marketed as Pleasure Island Paradise. Since second and third-place finalists failed to show, and due to the quality of her presentation, the entire $3,500 award for the division was given to McMeans.

Andy’s Music earns Top 100 music retailer award for fourth time
Andy’s Music Inc. in Mobile has been named one of the world’s Top 100 musical instrument and product retailers for the fourth time at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), a global association for the music products industry. The award will formally be presented to the retailer with other award winners during the industry’s upcoming trade event, Summer NAMM in Nashville.

“To be a four-time winner is really an honor, but what makes us proud is our staff, who made this happen,” James Andrews, vice president of Andy’s Music, said.

Achieving Top 100 designation recognition includes having a proven local community advocacy program, showing regional support for music education and effective and engaging use of available social media resources. Businesses vying for upper-echelon status are evaluated for a sound business model, resourceful approaches and effective implementation of best practices in the aforementioned areas.

A panel of independent judges scored each entry to determine the final winning qualifiers. Dubbed the “retail Oscars” by Music Inc. magazine, NAMM’s Dealer Awards spotlight the industry’s very best music product retailers.

“The music retailers honored with NAMM’s ‘Top 100’ Dealer status are those working hard to create positive musical experiences for everyone, from those just learning to experienced musicians,” Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM, said. “Andy’s Music is an important ambassador for making music in Mobile, and exemplifies the passion for making music that unites us all.”

Established in 1977 by Jimmy Andrews, sibling owners James Andrews and Linsey Andrews-Abraham, are fourth-generation entrepreneurs. Great-grandfather Christos Andreoglou, who emigrated from Smyrna, Greece, in 1910, had a general store and tavern on Bloodgood Street and grandfather Jimmy had a restaurant, Andy’s Grill on Broad Street in Mobile.

Mobile native chosen as EMT of the Year finalist
Mobile native Aleisha Wright was recently chosen as an EMT of the Year finalist for the area covering Jackson County in Mississippi by Louisiana-based Acadian Ambulance Service.

Wright also works as a medic and health care specialist with the Army National Guard, where she trains new soldiers coming in to the unit. “She is very proficient during calls, ensures her unit inventory is stocked at all times and is known as an outstanding EMT who displays an exemplary attitude and provides excellent patient care,” Acadian operations manager Damon Wilson said.

Each year, Acadian Ambulance recognizes finalists known as outstanding paramedics and EMTs who display exemplary attitudes and provide excellent patient care. Since 1971, the company provides emergency and non-emergency medical transportation services in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.