An app that helps college students find free food and events on campus has 12,000 users at some of the state’s biggest universities and could launch nationwide next year.
UNIBEES founders Abinav Varma Kalidindi and Chandra Kiran Achanta started the app at the University of Texas at Dallas in August 2016. Both attend UTD and will graduate in May.
When Dallas Innovates last reported about the startup in January, it had 2,500 users.
This year, it’s expanded to the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University and added thousands of users.
In the spring, the app will launch at Texas Christian University, the University of North Texas, and Southern Methodist University.
“We are conquering Dallas in the spring,” Kalidindi said.
“We are conquering Dallas in the spring.”
Abinav Varma Kalidindi
Next fall, they plan to scale rapidly to more than 100 universities across the country, using UNIBEES ambassadors to be their boots on the ground at each campus.
“We have the technology in place and we have the market knowhow,” he said. “We wanted to launch when the students are new to campus.”
UNIBEES has received interest from investors in Dallas and Austin and will need additional capital to scale in the right way, Kalidindi said.
Earlier this year, the startup won second place at the UT Dallas Business Idea Competition — now called the Big Idea Competition — and got additional funding from a UTD entrepreneurship program that helped it to reach this point.
UNIBEES EXPANDS BEYOND BEING A HUB FOR FREEBIES
The core philosophy behind UNIBEES is to help students find freebies, but it’s expanded the services to become a social platform. The Hive feature allows students to connect based on similar interests, such as tennis or running.
It also shows places that offer student discounts and other cheap deals. The app uses geolocation to help users find the location where the deal is happening.
“It’s getting harder and harder for brands to connect with that younger generation.”
Abinav Varma Kalidindi
Kalidindi monetizes the app by partnering with brands who want to reach college students. So far, he’s established relationships with restaurants such as Which Wich, Jack in the Box, and Potbelly Sandwich Shop to offer coupons or other deals to attract students. Brands could even put on special events where they give away T-shirts or free samples. UNIBEES would notify users through the app.
One UNIBEES event earlier this year got 1,000 signups in five hours at one university.
“It’s getting harder and harder for brands to connect with that younger generation,” Kalidindi said. “We are basically providing access to connect with the demographic. This app, it’s one of a kind. No one else is doing this.”
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