This computer science student wants to help restaurants build stronger connections with diners with a new app by Alena Kuzub December 7, 2023 Share Facebook LinkedIn Twitter David Alade, a computer science student at Northeastern University, demonstrates an a mobile application of his business, Bibite. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University Growing up in Brewster, New York, David Alade always had the feeling that he would have his own business one day. That is why Alade, now a third-year computer science student, was determined to study business and finance at Northeastern University. His interests changed, however, he says, once he heard his older friends talk about their classes at the Khoury College of Computer Science. Nevertheless, Alade’s entrepreneurial spirit found an outlet when he enrolled in the fall 2023 Husky Startup Challenge, Northeastern’s official venture incubator and a startup pitch competition. Alade won the social media award and $500 for the pitch of his venture, Bibite (pronounced as “bee-bite”), a platform for restaurants and their patrons that integrates the payment process with a seamless social review sharing system. Every semester, the Husky Startup Challenge takes student entrepreneurs through a series of bootcamps, where they learn about various aspects of creating a business venture from ideation to prototyping. At the end of the program, student founders compete in the Demo Day, presenting their business ideas in two-minute pitches in front of a larger audience. “Bibite is essentially a platform that helps restaurants connect with their guests,” Alade says. “And it also helps diners have a smooth post-dining experience.” David Alade, who studies computer science, works on his business venture, Bibite, in the EXP building on Northeastern’s Boston campus on Nov. 29, 2023. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University David Alade, who studies computer science, works on his business venture, Bibite, in the EXP building on Northeastern’s Boston campus on Nov. 29, 2023. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University David Alade, who studies computer science, works on his business venture, Bibite, in the EXP building on Northeastern’s Boston campus. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University The idea of Bibite, he says, first started as a solution for splitting the bill at a full-service sit-down restaurant. But after looking at countless restaurant bills, Alade started to realize how much information they contained. That made him think about other valuable features his app could provide. Alade has identified at least three issues besides food quality and service, he says, that could be optimized for modern dining. Restaurants, like any retail business, Alade says, would love to use loyalty programs to have customers come to them again and again. “But the issue with particular restaurants is that any sort of upselling that you’d want to do after someone’s eaten is somewhat intrusive to the dining experience,” Alade says. “You really can’t bother somebody because you don’t want to make them not want to come back.” Splitting the bill with a large group of people can also sometimes turn into an ugly process, Alade says. It may require one person to put their card down and then make sure everybody pays back their portion, he says, and tipping gets complicated this way, too. Finally, online reviews are extremely important in the modern-day age. More than 67% of people say they read reviews before choosing a restaurant, but less than 50% of diners say they leave reviews after a positive dining experience. Add negative reviews, and the restaurant’s reputation, foot traffic and revenue are in danger. With Bibite, restaurant-goers can use their phone to scan the receipt and do three things at the same time — save money by applying any valid discounts or promotions that the restaurant is offering, send the payment stub to other diners at the table, and share their thoughts about the meal and the restaurant right then and there. “And it is all very easy, it will take less than a minute,” Alade says. The app will recognize which partner restaurant the diner is at and apply the ongoing promotions or discounts in real time, reducing the total payment. Friends who are also using Bibite, Alade says, will be able to read each other’s reviews. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University Bibite is a platform developed by David Alade, a third-year computer science student, and his friends that will help restaurants connect with their guests. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University To develop this venture, Alade sought support from Northeastern and his friends. He started going to IDEA, a student-led venture accelerator that his friends had been talking about, and was introduced to a whole range of programs that make up Mosaic, a Northeastern network of student-led organizations that empower the university’s entrepreneurship community. He also has spent a lot of time with rev, an interdisciplinary community of builders, founders, creatives and researchers founded by a group of Northeastern student entrepreneurs that connects venture founders with students willing to work on side projects. It has been the most productive space for him, Alade says, working side by side with other students and meeting new people. “I’m a computer science major, and I know how to code,” he says. “But this is my first time coding any sort of iOS app. So I’ve met people that have experience with iOS apps, and they have helped me so much.” Currently, a team of about five engineers is working on completing the app and setting up a customer relationship management system. Alade says they will be ready for launch in one to two months. Scout, another Mosaic organization and a Northeastern student-led design studio hosted by the College of Arts, Media and Design, helped Alade with user interface. “They designed our whole entire user interface,” Alade says. “The results were just better than anything we could have imagined. We wouldn’t be anywhere near the same spot without them.” Scout has also helped to decide on the name for the app. “It was becoming an argument within everybody working on the project, what the name was going to be,” Alade says. “So we just said, ‘Look, guys, can you please think of a name?’ So I think that goes to show how much they’ve done for us.” Although Bibite was his idea, Alade acknowledges that his team and other members of the entrepreneurial clubs provided a lot of support. “I do owe a lot of what we have done to them, because it’s not necessarily easy to dedicate your time to something that isn’t paying you in real time, especially when you could be doing other things for your career,” he says. After the application is ready, Alade wants to test Bibite at one of the restaurants close to the Northeastern Boston campus first. When the team finalizes a draft agreement for other restaurants down to fine detail, he says, they will be ready to approach other dining establishments. Alëna Kuzub is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email her at email@example.com. Follow her on X/Twitter @AlenaKuzub.