It’s mid-September, and that means university campuses have been buzzing with the sound of students running from lecture halls to libraries to frat parties, before stumbling back to their dorm rooms in the middle of the night. But in the midst of all that hustle and bustle, these young academic minds also require sustenance. And quickly.
That’s why, across some 125 university campuses in the U.S., there’s a new app on campus that’s proven to be quite popular, one that’s determined to save students time they could otherwise be using to study, socialize, or sleep.
Tapingo is a free app that allows students to order food from their favourite places via their smartphones, so that when they arrive they can just pick it up from the counter without having to wait in line. The app eventually learns your preferences, so if you’ve ordered a nonfat, skim milk cappucino with extra foam and a dash of nutmeg from Starbucks two days in a row, it will remember your order and ask if you want it again the next day – which you likely will.
Payment is done via your phone so the transaction is seamless, smooth and effective, giving university students on the go that extra few minutes to relax before their tumultuous day begins. Daniel Almog, CEO of the Tel Aviv/San Francisco-based startup, explains that him and CTO Udi Oster first came up with the idea in the most unlikeliest of places: while serving in the IDF’s intelligence unit.
“It seemed odd to us that technology had improved so many aspects of daily life, yet the impact of these technological advances were so minimal when it came to buying – something we do every day,” Almog explains to The CJN. “We knew there was massive potential to improve the buying experience, and that our success hinged on overcoming the obstacles faced by other players in this space.”
After the app launched in Israel, Almog quickly saw there was a huge market available on American university campuses, which he refers to as a “densely populated closed ecosystem.”
“Students are active, tech-savvy users whose needs are evolving,” he says. “Tapingo’s technology suits most obviously the lifestyle and demands of the college market, but increased convenience is desirable across all generations! We expect to see our technology adopted in other industries.”
For the 2015/16 academic season, Tapingo launched several new features to ensure efficiency. First is Tapingo Delivers, an on-demand delivery service that will be staffed entirely by college students. Because deliveries will be primarily done on campus, Almog believes that students will be able to deliver 3-4 orders per hour. Like Uber, student-couriers can log in whenever they have free time and start making deliveries. “This empowers us to introduce entrepreneurship to students, who otherwise might not have exposure to this world, and helps us provide a superior service!” Almog explains.
Other features the startup is rolling out include scheduled ordering – allowing you to schedule your lunch and coffee breaks around your classes – and quick picks, so that businesses aligned with Tapingo can note which items they carry are always immediately available. It’s also launching Club Tapingo, which will create a community of Tapingo users and provide access to exclusive discounts and events.
Last year, Tapingo’s presence exploded on the university scene, seeing an average of 25,000 transactions a day. The company also received US $22 million in venture-capital funding. Naturally, many students went to social media platforms like Twitter to hail the app for making their lives easier, and providing them with more time for productivity. Understandably, the company received particular praise once they partnered with Starbucks. At the start of September, they partnered with another reputable brand, available for both pickup and delivery: Chipotle.
“Our users look to us to offer everything from local favourites to large national brands,” Almog explains proudly, “Which is what differentiates us from competitors.”
Of course, what we were more excited to learn is of Tapingo’s impending roll out into Canadian university campuses. “Our expansion into Canada is very exciting – we’re starting with University of Ottawa, and we’re hosting a poutine night to celebrate!”
Tapingo on the University of Ottawa campus will launch in January 2016, and the company is currently in touch with many large universities in Canada. While the app will look similar from the consumer perspective, expanding into a new country gives Tapingo the opportunity to enhance their software capabilities to accommodate different currencies. “Et maintenant, nous parlons en français! Not really, but we did make the app available in Canadian French, as well as English,” Almog says.
Like Waze, Wix, Outbrain, Fiverr, and a myriad of other successful startups, Almog explains why Israel has earned its reputation as the Startup Nation. “There is an active and prospering tech scene in Israel!” he exclaims. “The combination of a strong entrepreneurial spirit and talented engineering community is a recipe for success.”
Visit here to download Tapingo today to help manage your hectic student lifestyle. While we may have to wait a bit longer here in Canada, it’s nice to know Almog’s ultimate objective: to get Tapingo into the hands of all students in North America.