Since 2011, daily time spent using mobile apps has surpassed desktop and mobile web consumption, according to Flurry Analytics, an app-tracking firm. More than 40 billion apps have been downloaded from the Apple App Store and another 25 billion from the Android Market. Many people use apps for entertainment, cooking, reading, driving, working out, even for dating. We talked to two students and two alumni who have developed apps that can guide you through an evening out on the town.
Most college students begrudge being the unlucky person who has to pay the bill during a group take-out order, since they are often ‘stiffed’ by friends who don’t have cash on-hand. After several nights of being ‘that guy’ during shared orders, fourth-year student Rory Stolzenberg (Col '13) wanted to fix the problem. Wouldn’t it be nice, he thought, if everyone could pay for their order portions through their phones by entering their credit card information?
In September of 2011, the economics and government double major began building the Foodio application for the Android phone, allowing for individual payments on a group order via the app. By May, he ran a beta test using several Corner restaurant menus.
This past fall, Stolzenberg developed the product for iPhones and Blackberries while also enhancing the group-order function so that friends could sync their order between multiple phones. Stolzenberg visited Corner restaurants, pitching businesses on giving the app a try. Four restaurants agreed.
The app itself is free for the user. If multiple credit cards are being charged for the order, there’s a processing fee and the restaurants pay a small commission—though they won’t have to pay unless they receive orders via Foodio.
Foodio is scheduled to launch in mid-February—and if successful, extend beyond UVA. “Our ultimate goal is for Foodio to be the go-to way to order any take-out or delivery food in the country,” Stolzenberg says.
At a Game or Concert: ATTENDR
The app is free to users at smaller events; for larger events, the host pays for its use.
Baumgartner’s idea won the won the Vonage-OpenGrounds Future of Social Messaging Concept Competition at UVA on November 30th, which granted him a $15,000 grand prize. Baumgartner says he’s using $5,000 to 7,000 of the prize money toward building the app’s business. He’s still working on developing the app, along with two business partners, and hopes to expand nationwide once the app is running.
Getting Home: TAXI MAGIC
In 2007, Partee and DePasquale, already successful businessmen, founded Taxi Magic, now the country’s largest taxi booking network. The app allows you to book taxis through your phone, follow the cab’s progression and pay for your cab ride via the app.
After starting in the D.C. area, Taxi Magic has spread globally in the last five years, including to Vancouver and London, in partnering with local cab services. They’re also located in UVA territory in partnership with Yellow Cab of Charlottesville.
Downloading the app is free; should you pay for the cab via the app, there’s a $1.50 documentation charge. You can store previous address pick-ups as ‘favorites,’ which the app will remember, and the app now also utilizes Four Square to improve the speed and efficiency of pinpointing your exact location. “We talk about the app as a wanted app for a needed transaction,” Partee says. “The concept of needing to get around town is clearly a need, and we strive to be a wanted app—to make the app easy, convenient and fun.”