LINCOLN, Neb. - For weeks, restaurants, bars and coffee shops have been closed to dine-in service. Local shops say that's hurt their business, but a few University of Nebraska students are hoping to use their skills in the classroom to make up for the losses.
Two University of Nebraska students created the Brim app, which allows people to mobile order from local businesses. (Source: BRIM)
During the pandemic, there's been a big push to shop local. For Jacob Peddicorn and Luke Bogus, helping local businesses compete with national chains is their way of giving back.
The two created an app called Brim. It allows customers to order from local businesses in Lincoln and Omaha all in one place.
So far, local coffee shops say this has helped them stay afloat.
On a normal day, The Foundry would be filled with customers getting their daily cup of joe. Today, it's empty.
"With teleworking and the university leaving early and all that, we just lost pretty much our entire clientele base," said Chief Operations Officer Jesse Bergman.
The coffee shop is also a non-profit, so Bergman said the business is really feeling a strain.
"Sometimes money isn't always as fruitful in the non-profit sector but at the end of the day it allows us to get creative and figure out ways and be nimble and agile," Bergman said.
One way the shop is adapting is by using the Brim app.
Peddicord and Bogus have been working on Brim for two years, but having it ready for market during a pandemic, they switched up their game plan slightly.
"The pandemic actually forced us to cancel one of our promotional events for it because it was going to be in person," Peddicord said.
But, the two thought quick on their feet, and decided to use the app for good. For the next six months, businesses can join and use the app for free. All they need is a Square card reader.
"For us, it's not a business opportunity," Bogus said. "It's an opportunity for us to give back to the community, really help people in need right now, and really try and help keep a lot of these places, keep them on and keep them going and keep paying their employees and keep getting revenue."
The goal for Peddicord and Bogus is to help local businesses compete.
"People are pretty familiar with, like, the Starbucks app, getting on and re-ordering your favorite drink right there," Bogus said. "A lot of times, local businesses can't compete with that, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to do so."
Peddicord said the app benefits both local stores and him as a student.
"I'm a computer science major so I make stuff all the time, but this is something that gets out in the real world and seeing it actually be able to help people has been extremely gratifying," Peddicord said.
Right now, the app features local coffee shops and even a brewery, but Bogus said it can be used by any local business that uses the Square terminal and system.
"For us at The Foundry, I think Brim is definitely something we want to continue to use going forward to really help us reach customers in new ways," Bergman said. "Even after the pandemic, I think it's something we are really looking forward to growing and expanding even more."
For customers, the app is free to download. Currently, it is only available for iPhone users, but it will be on Android very soon. Brim also has a website for people to order from directly.