Student-created Whistl app connects customers to restaurant deals
Spring 2013 graduate Jeremy Goldberg and business communication senior Perry Czopp drove back into Phoenix a few months ago, hungry and just a little bit broke.
The two began searching on their smartphones for restaurants offering deals at the time, but when they couldn't find anything, they saw an opportunity to create their own service.
Along with Jeremy's brother, incoming finance and math senior Jacob Goldberg, they created Whistl, an iPhone application that shows deals at local restaurants. The app launched on May 30.
"We really focus in on specials," Jacob said. "We don't force anyone to sign up. We just want to connect people and businesses, not force them to be loyal to us."
The app is free to use, and it doesn't require any registration. It's currently only available on the iTunes App Store, but Jeremy, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in graphic information technology, also coded a mobile-friendly website that users without iPhones can access.
Unlike sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon, Whistl does not have user reviews of the restaurants. This keeps it free from negative reviews from people who had one bad experience, Czopp said.
"We present the deals," he said. "We're not telling you where to go."
The three creators picked the local restaurants the app features now, Jacob said.
"All three of us are foodies, and we picked restaurants we know have deals," he said.
As it's just launching, the app's selection is limited primarily to restaurants in the Valley and east of the Interstate 17. However, there are plans to extend it to the rest of Phoenix shortly, as well as to other areas of the state and country.
The app allows users to input their location to see which restaurants with deals are around them. If users aren't in Arizona, they'll get a message explaining that the app works best in Arizona and offering to notify them when it expands to their area.
The creators will use information about where people who want the app are to decide where to next expand its services.
While the app's creators have been adding deals they know about, they'll soon launch a dashboard that restaurants can use to add and change their own deals. Restaurants would pay a flat rate to use this service, and while that rate isn't set yet, it will likely fall in the range of $30-50 a month, Jeremy said.
This is low compared to the company's average monthly marketing costs, he said.
"Businesses are trying to reach out to people, but they often do that by advertising, like shouting," he said. "A much more elegant way to reach people is to whistle."
Businesses using the Whistl service can manage their own deals and update them instantly with the guarantee that people will see it, Czopp said.
"A manager can just look around and see that they've got a bunch of one kind of wine or something like that and then put up a deal from their phone," he said. "They can do it for just the next couple of hours and know that people will see it and come."
The app is easier to use than online coupon sites like Groupon, Jeremy said. It allows individuals to use the deals and doesn't take a percentage of the sale.
As for paper coupons, the app's creators see no use for them.
"The idea of printing a coupon almost seems barbaric," Jacob said. "Everything can be done digitally now."
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her @JMShumway