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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The Observer

Students create app to give users discounts on food with the snap of a picture

Seniors Horacio Lopez and Alexandra Lopez engineered the GiveBee app. Two weeks ago, they co-hosted an event with Tinder at Salsas to advertise their project.

Sitting together in their Introduction to Engineering class as freshmen, now seniors Horacio Lopez and Alexandra Lopez never imagined their friendship would turn into a partnership. However, three years later Horacio and Alexandra have engineered their own app together — GiveBee.

GiveBee serves as a community where app users share posts about the food venues they visit. After snapping the photos and posting them to their social media accounts users are rewarded “FreeBees,” which may be getting a 10 percent discount on their purchase for example. Users’ followers are able to screenshot these posts, upload them and also get a “FreeBee” in return. Ultimately, the businesses that are signed up in GiveBee can use this information to analyze how many new visitors are generated from these posts.

After launching in December 2019, the app currently has more than 300 community users and eight paying locations, including Purely Pressed, Tap House on the Edge, Bistro 933 and Salsa’s Mexican Restaurant, but Horacio said there are “many more to come soon.”

The idea for the app was conceived when Horacio was running Facebook ads for three local businesses the summer after his freshman year.

“I noticed that a massive driver to locations was customer content on Instagram,” Horacio said. “Because of Instagram, people are the new ads. But nothing existed for my local clients to automatically increase this behavior.”

Horacio said his parents owning a tapas restaurant in Evanston, Illinois also served as a motivator for his project.

He tried to develop the app during his sophomore year, but was unsuccessful in his efforts. More recently however, Horacio said he’s felt he has a “clearer, more focused path,” and with support from friends and partners like Alexandra, GiveBee became a reality.

His current success has inspired Horacio to work on GiveBee full time after he graduates in May.

“At the current trajectory, GiveBee has enough to support myself in a workspace at Chicago’s 1871. Then, when the time is right, we’ll get a full-time team,” Horacio said.

At present, Horacio and Alexandra are working on advertising for the app, which is why they co-hosted an event with Tinder at Salsa’s Mexican Restaurant two weeks ago.

Their choice to host the event with Tinder stems from Horacio and Alexandra’s friendship with Tinder’s representative on campus, senior Joe Nwanebo.

“Joe has been one of the people we turn to for user interviews. During one of these interviews, he offered the opportunity to partner up for the event, so we took it,” Alexandra said.

Alexandra said taking Nwanebo’s advice was a great idea because they event turned out to be “the biggest driver of users so far.”

Throughout the process, Horacio and Alexandra both said they have gained valuable lessons and have experienced a steep learning curve.

“The biggest learning I’ve had is that anything that’s worth going after never comes easy, and sometimes the sacrifices are a lot, but if you truly love what you do, why do anything else?” Horacio said.

Alexandra echoed this sentiment and said she’s learned the important of resilience in endeavors like this one.

“I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is that we don’t always know everything, and it’s okay to be wrong at times,” Alexandra said.

Asking for advice and insight might lead to the best solutions, Alexandra said.

“It’s so important to talk to other people – potential users and advisors. You learn so much from every single conversation you have,” Alexandra said.

As a result, user feedback has become the backbone for GiveBee’s newest version.

“That was the biggest thing that’s changed in the newest version of GiveBee. Talking to users is a must,” Horacio said.

Looking back on his time at the University, Horacio said there was one thing he would tell his freshman self, the one who never imagined his future trajectory while sitting with Alexandra in class.

“I would tell myself: just keep going in the long term, don’t focus on the temporary failures and hiccups,” Horacio said. “It always turns out fine.”