The hunt for free food, giveaways, and special events can often be a frustrating, cumbersome process with clunky websites and multiple social media platforms that may or may not be reliable.
So, a few University of Texas at Dallas students decided to consolidate everything into one, easy to navigate app for college students.
They call it UNIBEES and they’ve got 2,500 users at UTD and are planning to expand to the University of Texas at Arlington this month. They’re also launching version 2.0 with new features.
“We thought we’d develop an app, one-stop place for students to find everything going on around campus.”
Abinav Varma Kalidindi
“There’s so much free food being given away at different events on campus,” said co-founder Abinav Varma Kalidindi. “We thought we’d develop an app, one-stop place for students to find everything going on around campus.”
UNIBEES received $5,000 recently by placing second out of 109 other startups at the UT Dallas Business Idea Competition.
Kalidindi developed the app along with his friend Chandra Kiran Achanta last year. Both hail from India. A third student, Sanjay Kurani, was also involved in the development and was part of the team when they competed at the UTD competition. Kurani has since moved on to other projects.
The graduate students met in their first semester at UTD a year ago and quickly realized the problem that existed. They started working on the app in June and launched it in August when the next semester started.
For the name, they drew inspiration from honey bees who collect nectar from a variety of sources and bring it back to the hive, Kalidindi said. That’s essentially what UNIBEES does.
Event organizers can sign up on the app and post different events, concerts, and parties to the app. Moderators check the post and then it goes live for all the users to see. That maintains the quality of the posts.
Users rate the events so others will know which organizers are yielding the best results. They’ve also gamified it so the event organizer with the highest rating wins a prize.
Since August, Kalidindi estimates the app has directed students to 15,000 slices of free pizza, 3,500 free shirts, and other fun concerts and events.
UNIBEES partners with businesses around the UTD campus to offer discount coupons and other incentives to draw students to the businesses.
“The whole ecosystem is very happy in UT Dallas,” Kalidindi said.
This concept could work at any university. With the updated app and launch at UTA, the sky is the limit for UNIBEES. The app might be available at the University of Texas at Austin this month, where there is 60,000 potential users.
They haven’t monetized the idea, yet, but they are hoping to do that soon, too.
“We have a lot of investor interest in us,” Kalidindi said.
The initial app was outsourced to developers in India, but for version 2.0, they enlisted a local UTD student to code the update.
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