OptTown App: Avoiding less than ideal deals
Amanda Arthur ’11 loves finding the perfect daily deal, just a bit more than she hates how many undesirable deals clog up her inbox.
Now the SCU alumna believes she’s found a business and consumer solution to this problem. Working with her father, Tom Arthur, she helped launch a new mobile app called OptTown in February. OptTown is an app that organizes and prioritizes all of the daily deals, news, events, and loyalty programs at local businesses.
“As a consumer you don’t want 15 different apps for all your favorite places. With OptTown, it’s all in one place,” said Arthur.
What started out as a dinner table conversation five years ago has now grown. Since its launch in early February, OptTown currently has over 700 downloads and maintains relationships with over 30 participating local businesses including Jasmine Thai, Blondie’s Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream, Zanotto’s Express Deli, and Mio Vicino.
Arthur explained that it was beneficial to launch in a college community because if favorite local businesses are involved, then students, faculty, and staff will want to download the free app. Eventually Arthur hopes the app will expand outside of college campuses, but for now they are sticking with universities, expanding to San Jose State University, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis this summer.
“It’s great because I already know the undergraduate community and have relationships with some of the popular retailers around here, helping stimulate downloads,” said Arthur.
Using OptTown a retailer can create a deal, while the app compiles all of the analytics behind the promotion, calculating how many customers use the loyalty program or which deals consumers responded to the most.
“We are essentially changing how marketing is done,” said Arthur. “With an ad in the newspaper, you don’t know how many people see it or read it and then you know even less about the amount of consumers who choose to act on it.”
Bluelight App: A simple way to be safe
Preet Anand ’11, had just stepped foot on the Mission Campus when what would become the inspiration for a new mobile app hit him.
“The inspiration for the project came during my freshman orientation,” said Anand, currently a product manager at Zynga, who is the founder of 4taps, the company behind a smart phone app called Bluelight. “I heard that one in four women are victims of attempted sexual assault, and it really stuck with me… I thought, if I could reduce that by 50 percent, what could that mean for the world?”
Anand tried several ideas, including merging pepper spray with photo technology.
“None of them stuck,” he said. “Finally, shortly after graduation, I noticed that folks were more likely to leave their purses behind than their phones. Talk about a sticky device that would follow the user anywhere.”
Smart phone owners set Bluelight for the length of time needed to arrive at a destination, select a contact they trust and set an alert. Once users reach their destination, they check in with Bluelight. Bluelight sends a text message or email with the user’s most recent location to their emergency contacts if they fail to check in or do not arrive at their destination safely.
“It only takes four taps, from pocket to help, for the app to make a phone call and share your GPS coordinates with up to three emergency contacts,” Anand said. “Think of it as an I’ll-call-you-when-I-get-there 2.0.”