Though USC students have access to a variety of on-campus restaurants and eateries, CampusCred, a new online business for college dining, shopping and events, offers students significant discounts at local restaurants and food stores to encourage off-campus exploration.
Undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley developed CampusCred, which is similar to Groupon, in August of 2010. The company is completely student-run and has expanded to other UC schools including UCLA. It is now debuting at USC by offering students a $10 voucher at the new Chick-fil-A on Figueroa Street for only a $5 online payment.
“CampusCred is by students, for students. Our deals are exclusively offered to students and are at least 50 percent off,” said Sagar Shah, the company’s founder. “Businesses like it because we are guaranteeing them customers, and students love it because they’re able to enjoy restaurants in their college community for less.”
More than 400 USC students have already embraced CampusCred by taking advantage of the Chick-fil-A deal, according to the website’s customer count.
Andrew Hornblower, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said although he would still dine at Chick-fil-A without the discount, he plans to take advantage of future CampusCred deals, especially the ones at pricey venues.
“This will be a great way to try out expensive places and although Chick-fil-A is obviously not one of them, I am very excited to explore what the community has to offer,” Hornblower said.
Wing Lee, a member of the CampusCred team at USC, said CampusCred plans to offer students discounts not only at relatively cheap eateries like Chick-fil-A, but also at higher-end establishments like L.A. Live restaurants.
“A lot of times, students are hesitant to leave campus and try new places because they aren’t familiar with it, but CampusCred is trying to change that,” Lee said.
CampusCred counters this possible dilemma by awarding students a $5 credit for each friend they sign up online.
“It’s about spreading the word and encouraging students to go to these places with their friends so they have a good time,” Lee said.
With these social goals in mind, CampusCred launched a Facebook page that gives students additional discounts if they “like” the page, according to Nick La Maina, another member of the USC CampusCred team.
“Social networking is a big part of CampusCred,” La Maina said. “Facebook allows students to connect online and share their experiences at Chick-fil-A and other restaurants.”
CampusCred’s off-campus deals might convince some students to choose off-campus venues over residence dining.
“These discounts allow me and all my friends to save money and hang out at Chick-fil-A and other venues in the future,” said Devon Graves, a junior majoring in philosophy.
Some students are excited about the discounts because meals will be cheaper than in the dining halls.
“Parkside is expensive compared to Chick-fil-A, especially with these discounts,” said Skylar Shapiro, a sophomore majoring in history.
As CampusCred’s presence grows on campus, the company plans to give students discounts at non-food related businesses. La Maina said students can expect to see CampusCred discounts for bowling, movies and even haircuts in the future.
“Our goal is to not just encourage students to discover places to eat in the community,” La Maina said. “We want students to explore more options for entertainment and recreation and make the most of their off-campus college experience.”