As small and local businesses across the country struggle to remain operational in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, two University of Nebraska-Lincoln students found a way to give back to their community by uplifting local businesses.
In October 2019, Jacob Peddicord, junior computer science major, and Luke Bogus, junior management major, began working together on an app called Brim that utilizes the point-of-sale system Square to help businesses facilitate on-the-go transactions through pre-ordering.
According to Bogus, local businesses usually do not have the funds or resources to get their own app made for them but could still benefit from customers being able to order ahead. To expand their mission during a time period when restaurant patrons cannot dine-in due to COVID-19, Peddicord and Bogus decided to offer six months of their product, worth about $500, for free to any local or small business.
“There’s definitely ways where we could’ve approached this as a really big business opportunity and try to make a bunch of money from it,” Bogus said. “But what we genuinely approach it as was actually just trying to help the community and help people who really, really, really needed it.”
Peddicord said he talked to the owner of The Foundry in 2018 and learned about the coffee shop’s struggle to compete against bigger corporations that could support ordering ahead, which appeal more to consumers who commute to work.
Peddicord and Bogus saw a gap in the market for small businesses, which they set out to remedy with Brim.
“I started exploring solutions in that space, and found that there wasn’t really anything affordable and integrated with what [businesses] already use,” Peddicord said. “And then from there I decided to build an app for them.”
Brim hit the Apple app store officially last week and is currently in the works to be compatible with Android devices. According to Peddicord, for a business to get on the app, an employee has to give them the information they need to incorporate their app with Square’s software.
Despite being such a new venture, Brim already has several businesses that utilize it in Lincoln, such as The Foundry.
In the wake of several restrictions throughout the nation on how restaurants and food services can operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, they also have gained new businesses, including one based in Wyoming, because of their six-month free trial.
“I just had kind of a gut feeling that [restrictions] were definitely going to happen nationwide,” Bogus said. “Trying to help people who are genuinely interested in the product and genuinely need it to keep their business up and running was super attractive to us.”
Looking ahead, Peddicord and Bogus have big dreams for the app but said they would be satisfied just knowing they have helped people.
“If [Brim] just ends up being like we only have a few shops that keep wanting to use the app, then that’s something that we’re happy with and happy to work on in our free time,” Peddicord said. “But we’re gonna work as hard as we can to try and make it into a full, real business.”