Fitz Tepper, a sophomore majoring in business administration, released his latest iPhone application, HungerGrad, this week. HungerGrad, which is available on the iTunes App Store, allows students to receive big discounts at popular restaurants both on and off USC campus.
“HungerGrad allows USC students to eat out at their favorite restaurants, while never having to pay full price for a meal again,” Tepper said
What makes HungerGrad stand out from other discount-based apps is that restaurants partnering with HungerGrad offer different deals to users depending on the time and day of the week. This means you can open the app during each of the three major mealtimes and be greeted with a different list of specials each time. These discounts range from a free sandwich at Subway to a 2-for-1 drink special at the student-favorite 901 Bar and Grill.
This isn’t the first time Tepper has developed an iPhone app geared toward USC students. In spring 2013, Tepper and Max Whitehead created an application that many students might be familiar with — the Eat at USC app informs USC students about the dining options run by USC Hospitality. Though the two apps similarly focus on student dining, Tepper’s latest app adds a money-saving component. Furthermore, not only does HungerGrad deal with popular restaurants outside of USC Hospitality’s ownership, but it also allows users to receive discounts from sought-after restaurants around USC at practically any hour of the day.
Tepper said HungerGrad’s goal is to become a ubiquitous part of students’ everyday eating habits.
“As soon as you’re hungry, you should open HungerGrad,” Tepper said. You’ll immediately see a list of great specials from multiple restaurants around USC, which you can then go and instantly claim,” “The dynamic nature of the deals offered means that you should check HungerGrad as often as possible, as some deals are only available for a few hours at a time.”
HungerGrad is the end result of almost two years of work on food-related iPhone apps for co-founders Tepper and Whitehead.
“I always wanted Eat at USC to turn into an app offering student discounts,” Tepper said. “The problem was that restaurants weren’t willing to discount their food.”
This was something Tepper could sympathize with, as growing up working in his family’s restaurants allowed him to see first-hand how difficult it could be for a restaurant to be profitable. Thinking back to his experiences growing up in the industry, he finally found a solution.
“When we began pitching the ability for restaurants to push out time-sensitive deals during their slow off-peak hours, the response from restaurant owners was incredible,” he said.
HungerGrad then became a win-win situation for both the consumer and the partner restaurant; the consumer receives a great discount on food while the restaurant makes extra revenue during its slower hours. So far, eight restaurants have started offering deals via HungerGrad, with more eateries being added every week.
As of now, HungerGrad is available exclusively to USC students and is limited to restaurants near the University Park campus. Starting this summer, however, HungerGrad plans to spread its student discounts to other campuses, with UCLA and schools in Tepper’s hometown of Philadelphia next on the list. Though the technical barrier to adding new campuses is very low, Tepper’s main concern at the moment is creating a great user experience for his fellow students at USC. So far, his hard work has paid off, as evidenced by an increasing number of student downloads and deals being claimed.
“Last night, I walked into Bella Pita and actually saw someone in the process of using HungerGrad to redeem a discount on their meal,” Tepper said. “The original inspiration was through my own want to save money eating out, so it’s great knowing that this app is something helpful to other students.”
In February, Tepper entered HungerGrad into the initial round of the Marshall School of Business’s New Venture Seed Competition, a contest for entrepreneurs in the Marshall School to receive funding and support for their business ideas. Out of the 100-plus USC startups that pitched their business plans, HungerGrad made it to the final eight. On April 16, Tepper will pitch HungerGrad to more than 350 Marshall students and faculty in an attempt to win funding and support from USC. The results of this competition will be announced at the New Venture Seed Competition Awards Dinner on May 1 at USC’s Town & Gown.
When asked if he uses his own app, Tepper responded with a laugh.
“Of course. I’m actually in the middle of what I like to call the ‘HungerGrad Challenge,’ attempting to follow my app’s motto of never paying full price for a meal again by only eating at HungerGrad restaurants,” he said.
Even though he hasn’t determined how long he plans on following his “HungerGrad Challenge,” it shouldn’t be too hard with the expanding variety of restaurant deals being offered every week.
HungerGrad is available now for free on the iTunes App Store, or at HungerGrad.com