An app developed by University of Nebraska–Lincoln undergraduates may help local restaurants and small shops feeling the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pi Kappa Alpha brothers Luke Bogus and Jacob Peddicord, students in the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, are creators of Brim, a mobile ordering app that is compatible with any business that uses the payment system Square.
Bogus and Peddicord are currently offering the app free for six months to support local businesses.
“From the inception, we didn’t really see it as a business opportunity. We always looked at it as a really cool way for students to help our community,” said Bogus, a junior management and marketing major from Columbus. “We really want to help people in need right now, so that’s why we’re offering it for six months completely free.”
The students began designing the app last year. Peddicord got the idea after speaking with Randy Hawthorne, executive director of Launch Leadership, a founder of The Foundry in Lincoln and a Husker alumnus, who mentioned needing a better mobile ordering solution for his customers.
“The more I looked, the more I realized this was something that not only was there not a great solution out there for, but I thought that I could build a solution that met his needs better myself,” said Peddicord, a junior computer science major from Kansas City. “No real, functional products came out of it until August 2019. That’s when I started talking to Luke about getting him involved. He helped me turn it into more of a business than just an app for one shop.”
Bogus and Peddicord said that up until last month, four Omaha and Lincoln businesses were using Brim — Reactor, Crescent Moon, Sozo Coffeehouse and The Foundry.
“This isn’t the only product that’s out there that’s like this, but what’s unique about ours is that we’re trying to price it in a way and present it in a way that’s specific to more local businesses and makes more sense to them — whether it be monetarily, whether it be usage, whether it be adoption or what have you,” Bogus said.
After coronavirus closures began in March, the students began receiving double the amount of inquiries they had been previously as businesses sought mobile order options to remain open. Since that time, they’ve been working daily to develop new solutions for businesses who need them.
“One of our shops this morning emailed us asking us to add curbside pickup options to the app, because that’s not something that existed previously,” Peddicord said. “We’ll be able to have that out in a couple days. It’s fun as people who are interested in running businesses to be able to help other people through times like this with a solution we were able to make.”
Leveraging their skills to help others, while developing their passion for entrepreneurship and computer science, has been a fulfilling way to spend their time away from campus.
“If we’re able to help a few shops stay open, that’s a total win for us,” Peddicord said.