This app will save you money and help local businesses end their midday slump

Djan Madruga, a business student, helped to create Promee, an app that offers users exclusive discounts at businesses near campus. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

What do hungry college students and small businesses have in common? The midday slump, a problem Northeastern students Djan Madruga, Francisco Carchedi, and Victor Bittar aim to tackle with their app Promee.

Promee, which was released in October 2017, offers users exclusive discounts on food and other products sold by businesses near Northeastern’s campus. But the app is about more than just half-priced pizza—it’s also dedicated to helping businesses increase their sales during off-peak hours.      

“It’s a very personalized approach,” said Madruga, a business student set to graduate in 2020. “We go to each business and look at the hours when they don’t have a lot of foot traffic, usually in the middle of the afternoon, and create offers during those hours.”   

Businesses that use Promee pay a flat fee of $30 per month, but they receive all of the profits from their sales. Users enjoy exclusive offers, including 50 percent off burritos from Amelia’s Taqueria.

The app looks like a social media platform. Users follow businesses they’re interested in and receive notifications when those companies post new offers. Promee even allows customers to suggest discounts they would like to see from businesses.

“We really want to connect people with high-quality products and offers they want to use,” Madruga said. “That’s what’s best for everyone.”

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Promee provides businesses with customer analytics that they can use to further tailor their services to their clients. Businesses receive users’ age, gender, location, click history, and follower lists.

Today Promee has more than 4,000 registered users and over 30 local business partners, including Vibrant Beauty Salon, Elements Massage, and CaffeBene. The three student entrepreneurs plan to partner with 10 more businesses near Northeastern this fall, including California Pizza Kitchen, Boston Shawarma, and Boston House of Pizza.

They said they want to emulate their successful relationship with Amelia’s Taqueria. In a test run conducted earlier this year, the app brought in 228 customers to Amelia’s during a 10-day period, a number the students  tracked through the use of a QR barcode they created with financial help from Northeastern.

Madruga and his business partners received $10,000 in gap funding from IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator, to create the QR code, establish Promee as an LLC, and trademark their company’s brand.

“Part of the reason Promee is so successful is because of the relationship we have with Northeastern and all the mentorship we’ve received from our professors,” Madruga said.

The group also sought guidance from Northeastern’s Community Business Clinic, a program that helps aspiring entrepreneurs navigate the legal side of business. “We’re so grateful that they could help us with the licensing and developing,” Madruga said.

“We really want to continue working with the university on this,” he added. “I can see myself still working on this in two or three years.”