EUGENE, Ore. -- A new app launched on the University of Oregon campus creates a new way for students to purchase meals off-campus while scoring deals at the same time.
But that's not all: the app helps students manage the grocery and food money their parents give them.
It’s called Waddle Meal Plan, and the app was founded by Mia Lopez and Alden Schatz, who are students at the UO's Lundquist College of Business.
Funds added onto the app can be used at participating food establishments. Parents and guardians are able to upload money directly to the app and track how their students are spending it -- if they choose.
“We’re just excited to see this grow and to grow in our community that we love,” Lopez said.
Lopez and Schatz began the planning process their freshman year, and finally launched the app last week.
They sent a survey to parents and students asking one question.
“If you were given $100 from your parents for food, how much would you actually spend on food?" Schatz asked. “We found that from the student’s perspective, it was only about $50 that they’d actually go and spend on food for money given for food. Parents were in the range of about $92 that they thought their students were spending on food.”
The students said they’re conducting research each day, and the app allows students to explore a variety of food options in the community.
“It also gives parents the chance to upload their food finances for their students and know the money is being spent on food,” Lopez said.
Hector Zavala is the co-owner of Oregon Burrito Company. His restaurant is a partner with Waddle.
“They came in with an awesome proposition,” Zavala said. “Their business model is solid. We can all benefit. As a restaurant owner, we always want to have foot traffic from customers. They provide another avenue for us to connect with our students.”
Zavala applauded the students for putting their plans to action.
“Not everyone implements their ideas,” Zavala said. “They decided to do that. They’re smart. I've met them both. They're both bright young people, and they have a big future. It's an awesome thing to see young people with creative minds and have new talents.”
UO freshman Evan Lampros shared his thoughts.
“With the Waddle app, it’s easy for me to manage my budget,” Lampros said. “I can check whatever restaurants are around and have a diverse selection of whatever I want to eat at the time.”
Schatz shared his message to his fellow peers.
“At the end of the day, there’s no better time to start exploring your career and especially business and entrepreneurship as a student,” Schatz said. “If all goes wrong and your business fails you hop right on board with the rest of your class. I challenge everyone to follow a dream of theirs and take up on their passion. The last thing you should do is fear failure,” Schatz said.
So far, 23 restaurants have signed up, but new ones are reaching out often. In nine days, more than 450 users have joined.
In addition, they hope this app can later be used as a playbook to go to other universities, as well.
Waddle Meal Plan was awarded New Venture of the Year by the University of Oregon.
Lopez and Schatz are the Entrepreneurs in Residency at the UO which means they are paid by the university to connect with other entrepreneurs at the university.
They shared that this newest venture wouldn’t be possible without the large support from the Lundquist College of Business, advisors, friends and family.
“When we first came up with the idea of Waddle, we really had no idea where to start,” Schatz said. “The first thing we did was reach out to the dean of the business school. From there, she was able to point us to the entrepreneurship office and advisors. Last year, as students, we did the full circuit of business competitions, entrepreneurship gatherings and clubs. From there the university has totally been able to shape our perspective on the whole thing and give us new insight, advice and angles.”
“I appreciate the university and the support we’ve had from not only the Lundquist College of Business but advisors all across the campus have been a tremendous help,” Lopez said.
They were recently featured in Portland’s Business Journal with other up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
The app is free for students and parents, and vendors pay a small fee.
For a list of participating restaurants, CLICK HERE.