Meet The Disruptors: Katie Hotze Of Grocery Shopii On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine
Published in
7 min readNov 21, 2021


Dress the part. These words are from my mom, who sent me into the workforce with the expectation that I will dress for the job I want, not the job I have. To this day, I swear it’s the best advice I’ve been given. When it counts, I’m always in heels.

Katie Hotze is the CEO and Founder of Grocery Shopii, a Charlotte-based tech startup that uses machine learning to fuel online grocery shopping. With over 20 years of experience in digital marketing, data analytics, and business strategy, Katie was able to turn a personal frustration with online grocery shopping into a nationally-recognized retail tech disrupter that’s rapidly expanding in North America, thanks to a partnership with Microsoft for Startups.

Founded in 2019, Grocery Shopii was developed to breathe new life into the commercial grocery industry. Continuously filled with fresh, chef-inspired recipes sourced from top food bloggers and brands, the platform not only streamlines meal planning but also reduces grocery shopping from hours to minutes–all from the device of your choice.

Prior to launching Grocery Shopii, Katie worked in management and technology consulting for two decades, leading global marketing teams at Mercer and BearingPoint. She broke away from her corporate career in 2018 to work for herself, giving her the much-needed time, energy, and motivation to finish her M.B.A. while building the Grocery Shopii offering and business model.

After a year of developing the solution with the help of UNC-Charlotte’s Ventureprise customer discovery startup incubator, the platform was named the industry’s “Best Tech Application of 2019” by Progressive Grocer.

An RIS Top 10 Women in Grocery Tech, Katie holds an M.B.A. from William & Mary, and a B.S. in Marketing from Virginia Commonwealth University. She currently resides in Davidson, N.C., where Grocery Shopii keeps a corporate office, and is an active member of the city’s burgeoning tech community.

Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this career path and the creation of Grocery Shopii?

I’m a digital marketing professional who has worked in management and technology consulting in Northern Virginia, Chicago and Charlotte for nearly 20 years. I spent most of my career working in the performance marketing space, which is the data-driven engagement side of marketing — most recently for a Fortune 200 company.

Grocery Shopii’s platform was designed directly from my own shopping experiences online trying to order groceries for my family. I realized I needed to determine what meals we were making first, but didn’t have the time! Prior to having kids, I learned how to cook with magazines like Rachael Ray and Food Network. Every Sunday I would rip out the recipes I wanted to make that week, list the items needed, and then take that list to the store and buy everything so I was ready to pull together the meals I needed. It was a super efficient process that allowed me to roll in the door on a weeknight and make dinner quickly.

Once motherhood happened, that process went out the window! I was overwhelmed with the added stress of making dinner every night in my household — it was constantly on my mind. It was those quiet train rides into the city in Chicago that gave me time to sketch ideas and shape solutions to this problem. As a digital marketer, I had strong opinions on the user experience of grocery websites as well as the skillset to attempt to solve that broken experience by expediting the shopping experience with recipes.

It took a corporate layoff, some severance funding, and a few months with a full-stack developer to create a prototype and confirm the viability of the concept. From that point forward, it’s been a wild ride building this company to answer the pain of “What’s for dinner?” for families as they navigate the pandemic and eat considerably more meals at home.

What is it about the work you’re doing at Grocery Shopii that’s disruptive?

The retail industry has accepted as the norm that only 30% of grocery shoppers actually check out online, leaving millions of dollars per store on the table in unrealized revenue. The Grocery Shopii platform combats this cart abandonment with machine learning, using recipes and thoughtful automation to expedite meal planning and online grocery shopping to five minutes or less. The result: Our platform improves checkouts by at least 25% when compared to standard eCommerce shopping experiences.

First, we took a recipe-to-cart process from an industry standard of 23–43 clicks to add one single recipe to a shopper’s cart and reduced it to just 4 clicks. Next, we flooded the shopping experience with recipes from top food brands and food bloggers, creating a curated shopping experience led entirely by authorities in the food world. Finally, we reduced the clicks required to add a recipe to cart from the industry standard average of 23 clicks down to just 4 clicks, expediting the shopping journey with recipes.

Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Like many women in the world, I found that voice I needed to keep going every day in Sara Blakely, the founder of SPANX. Her social media posts are candid and unfiltered, and are from the perspective of a woman who has been raising children while building her company. She’s also a very gratuitous person who empowers those around her. I feel motivated and energized from her stories on Instagram. I now also follow her husband, Jesse Itzler, as he is equally humble and inspiring.

Being the founder of a company is a lonely road. There’s no road map — you’re writing it every single day. When you’re building something new, you’re making decisions based upon minimal data. This means you take wrong turns sometimes and you may have to throw it in reverse and start over. Failure is essential to innovation, and both Sara Blakely and Jesse Itzler speak of this message so openly. Embracing failure as the path to success is essential to success as an entrepreneur, so I feel so empowered by following them both.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disruption in the tech space is the hyper-activation of digital transformation, meaning we are the people who identify gaps in a process and then build solutions — often coupling them with services to quickly resolve that gap for a specific audience. The outcome is typically a faster and more efficient experience that ultimately results in new revenue or cost savings for the stakeholders. These efficiencies can only go so far, and often new technology must be activated to continue the transformations.

An example is blockchain, which has reimagined the art of the possible for any business with dependencies on the accurate recording of information. Industries already considered optimized were flipped on their heads by disruptive startups once blockchain technology was available, and thus began a whole new series of transformations applying this capability to processes we once thought were optimized.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey?

Dress the part. These words are from my mom, who sent me into the workforce with the expectation that I will dress for the job I want, not the job I have. To this day, I swear it’s the best advice I’ve been given. When it counts, I’m always in heels.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next? What’s in store next at Grocery Shopii?

The future of grocery shopping is our focus. Our team is always looking forward, whether it’s in shopper trends and buying habits, new social channels, or retail opportunities to take the pain out of grocery shopping! We are excited to expand outside of the United States in the coming months, so that is a big focus for us.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

One of my favorite books I’ve now read a few times is called Fire in the Zoo by John Ross. The essence of the book is the value of customer discovery, but he tells his story — a notable career in marketing and retail — through the eyes of his former self, taking on new roles, getting hands-on with shoppers, and understanding the importance of serving the buyer first. His message is powerful for any business owner looking to optimize sales — which is all of us, really.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“A person’s success in life is usually defined by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have” — Tim Ferriss
I entered this journey as an entrepreneur with no real sales experience. I just knew that I had to keep talking to people in the industry, sharing my ideas and questioning the status quo. Looking back, those uncomfortable meetings where I cold pitched my idea and homemade prototype to “strangers with power” in the industry were the foundational steps to landing our first big deals. Today, I have awkward conversations all the time in the spirit of building our company, they’ve just gotten easier the more I have.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Every US employer should leverage a military and military spouse hiring program like Hire Our Heros. With work-from-home and virtual teams becoming the new normal, it’s the perfect time to unlock access to this unbelievable talent pipeline. We are already optimized for remote work, so a military spouse, who may relocate annually with his or her family, is an ideal hire. Grocery Shopii takes pride in continuing to source Food Influencers, Operations, and Strategic Leaders from current and former military or military spouses.

How can our readers follow you and Grocery Shopii online?

Grocery Shopii:

LinkedIn here

Katie Hotze:

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!



Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market