It was first semester, sophomore year when Sazan Dauti, MCAS ’18, and Joseph Bauer, CSOM ’18, approached each other with the idea of creating an app that would allow students to easily view what items are available at Boston College’s dining halls each day. EagleEats, which was released on the iPhone App Store on Monday, had just over 300 downloads in the 24 hours since it launched.
EagleEats allows students to view which dinings halls are open, the daily menus at each, and the nutritional facts and ingredients of the items being served. The app also uses the user’s location to determine which dining hall is closest, allowing the user to view that menu with a single tap. Users can add certain items as “favorites” and the app will notify the user when the item is available at any of the dining halls. Students can tap on a food item and see when and where it will be served in the next two days.
Dauti and Bauer, who were roommates sophomore year, came up with the idea for the app separately. One day, Dauti approached Bauer with the idea, to which Bauer replied “I had the same exact idea. I was going to ask you to work on it!”
When Dauti entered BC as a freshman, he did not know what each dining hall had to offer. It was much later when he discovered that BC Dining had a website with an updated menu each day, but he found this site hard to find and difficult to navigate.
“It is not user-friendly whatsoever, and it is very hard to look at,” Dauti said.
Bauer thinks the app has the potential to change the way students experience BC Dining. Instead of going into the nearest dining hall for their convenience, students can view food options ahead of time and go to the dining hall that they know has the meal they want to eat.
Although Dauti and Bauer were excited to develop the app, they were burdened with classes and summer internships, which led them to push off the development. In December, Dauti created web scrapers that collected data from the BC Dining page and copied them onto his server. He then began to design the app. By the end of Winter Break, they were putting on the final touches—all without having contacted BC Dining.
“I had the tools to do it on my own, so I thought, ‘Why not, it’s a cool project,’” Dauti said. “So I did it on my own.”
Director of BC Dining Services Elizabeth Emery didn’t find out about the app until Tuesday morning, when a dining manager saw a poster for the app and shared the photo with her. Emery said that she has not talked to the students, but one of her colleagues may reach out to them.
“If they wanted to [partner], we’d be more than happy to, but right now we are just doing our own thing,” Dauti said.
Freshmen and sophomores are the pair’s main target audience, since those are the students who have mandatory meal plans and will be eating mostly on campus. Bauer’s main duties are to promote the app via Facebook and hand out fliers. He was also involved in design, creating logos, and developing the user interface.
Dauti has been creating and putting apps on the App Store for the past seven years, so adding this app to the Apple Store came at no extra cost to him. There will be a monthly $40 charge, however, when Dauti switches to a private server, which he said will happen soon. Dauti and Bauer are not making money off the app to repay the costs.
“There’s no ads and it’s 100 percent free,” Dauti said. “I don’t think we should monetize a student app.”
There will be more updates coming to the app in the future, Bauer said. The two are in talks of expanding it to other universities to allow students to view the menus of their dining halls and track nutritional information.
“We haven’t really looked too far into that yet, but if everything takes off, then potentially we would be able to do that,” Bauer said.
Featured Image Courtesy of Sazen Dauti