The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) launched its first ever app on Dec. 8, with the release of SSMU Eats, a program designed to provide students with discounts from restaurants throughout Montreal. It is available on both iOS and Android, offering deals of up to 70 per cent off at a variety of venues around the city including Subway, Liquid Nutrition, Vua, and Le MajesThé. To access the discount, students have to select a coupon and show it to the cashier.
The app was developed in coordination with Spinyt Technologies, a company that has also worked with eight universities and 74 restaurants across North America to create apps promoting discounts for local businesses. Spinyt Technologies’ first app, CASA Deals, was released in partnership with the Commerce and Administration Students’ Association at Concordia University in August 2016. Since then, Spinyt Technologies has continued to collect user feedback and update the app accordingly.
“We figured out that students want discounts around campus and we started with Concordia,” Emile Chouha, one of the founders of Spinyt Technologies, said. “We partner up with the student association [of the university] and we get the restaurants from our side, and the student association is able to pass the information on to the students.”
Spinyt’s discount apps help vendors boost business during slow periods by giving them a platform to provide discounts coinciding with those periods.
“We allow restaurants to update their deals in real time,” Chouha said. “When they have empty seats in their restaurant, [owners] can upload a 50 per cent deal and students will go to the restaurant, fill up the empty seats, and take advantage of the discount.”
The app also helps eateries to reduce food waste by providing discounts toward the end of the day so they can sell leftover food that would otherwise be thrown out.
“[Restaurant owners] are engaging more and more with the platform,” Chouha said. “When we are able to get a lot of students on a campus, we have less food waste because there [are more interactions] going through the restaurants. Our goal for the next six months is to eliminate food waste downtown as a whole [instead of just around specific campuses].”
Partnered businesses have taken innovative approaches to promoting SSMU Eats. Le MajesThé, for example, offered students who had the app downloaded free bubble tea on Jan. 12.
“I think [SSMU Eats] attracts [quite a few] customers [when] I post the deals,” Vincent Ma, owner of Le MajesThé, said. “We had a good 450 people today download the app and quite a bit of new customers. We haven’t actually tried out too [many] features of the app, but it’s a really interesting idea and I think it will work out.”
SSMU Eats offers its own exclusive deals such as a ‘spin’ feature, on which users spin a wheel to win a randomly selected coupon for a restaurant close to them. In December, it also held a lottery offering free Vua sandwiches for a year to one lucky winner.
“I am extremely excited that I won the free sandwiches,” David Naftulin, U1 Arts and winner of the Vua sandwiches lottery, said. “I think the SSMU Eats app is awesome and I am really pleased with the selection of restaurants on the app. I am also really pleased to see SSMU taking steps in bringing forward initiatives that benefit the day-to-day lives of McGill students, and I hope to see more positive projects like this one from SSMU in the future.”
SSMU hopes to continue expanding the capacity of SSMU Eats and growing the range and diversity of its dining options.
“SSMU Eats will continue to expand the list of restaurants offering discounts to McGill Students,” SSMU President Muna Tojiboeva wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune. “We will continue to work with Spinyt to provide giveaways and contests to Undergraduate students all throughout the Winter semester.”