For college students, money is tight, which can make ordering takeout food a total drag. However, a recent Yale University graduate is changing that trend after developing a platform that connects users with more than 20 newly discounted restaurants.
Kevin Tan, a 2017 graduate who finished his physics studies in December, developed the idea for the app, Happy Hour, during an economics course last fall while learning about market inefficiencies.
“That made me ask questions and think about all the scenarios where both the seller and customer can benefit from a lower cost,” said Tan.
In December, the Cleveland native developed a website for Yale students to access new restaurant discounts around New Haven. First, though, Tan needed to find a handful of discounts before delivering the good news.
He set out on foot, going door-to-door and asking local restaurant owners if they would be interested in being featured on his website. In return, the businesses would need to provide customers with a new or existing discount to ink a partnership.
Five pizza restaurants signed on after more than 300 pizzas were sold from the website during finals week. Noticing the instant success, Tan directed his attention to the Happy Hour project and developed an app that would reach users more effectively in February. He now tends to the project full-time in New Haven.
As of the end of February, more than 400 Yale students are connected with the Happy Hour app, and more than 20 new students sign up each day. (In the last week alone, more than 100 students signed up, saving new users a total of somewhere around $1,500.)
According to Tan, about 30 percent of users are returning customers, and each user saves an average of $15.
These days, 90 percent of restaurant owners agree to join Happy Hour, which has made it fairly easy for Tan to secure local partnerships. In fact, Tan hasn’t paid for any marketing thus far: Word-of-mouth has been the app’s main marketing tactic.
This isn’t Tan’s first success, either. The 23-year-old taught himself how to code and has developed several apps and web-based companies during his time in New Haven. He also worked as a summer research student in the Yale Physics department.
He said the Happy Hour app provides a great opportunity for local businesses and customers to make—and save—a lot of money.
“We are on a mission to find all those situations where we can utilize technology and leverage it to save people money while being a win-win for the stores, too,” Tan said.
More than 25 brands have signed on to advertise their discounts through Happy Hour. Some include Anaya Sushi & Ramen, Ben & Jerry’s, Tropical Smoothie Café, The Juice Box, Skappo Kerkato, Brick Oven Pizza, Popeye’s and Main Garden.
The best deals on the website for Yale students provide 50 percent discounts to Papa John’s and 50 percent off first orders at K2 Chinese and Abate Restaurant.
Tan plans to re-launch the app in the summer for the entire Elm City. The new audience will surely help all parties involved.
“It’s pretty comforting to know that what I’m [doing] actually has been valuable for the customers,” he said. “What I really want to do is help people in New Haven save money when they eat out at restaurants. It could really save everyone in the city a lot of money.”
Keep up with Happy Hour’s latest offerings on Facebook.