A discount food ordering app designed by Georgetown students Aaron Rutter (COL ’20) and Sahaj Sharda (SFS ’20) launched this week.

The app, Dynos, works with local Georgetown restaurants to provide students with access to discounted food during restaurant off hours. According to Rutter, the app uses the principle of supply and demand to give its users discounts.

“The app dynamically prices food at restaurants based off of supply and demand. So that means that it discounts food,” Rutter said. “So if a bakery has, like, 20 leftover pastries at the end of the day, they’ll end up throwing them out, so the thought was, why waste food, and instead allow them to make some money on it.”

A student-launched app allows users to access discounted food from the Georgetown neighborhood.

Users can use the app to order food from local restaurants like Wingos, Georgetown Gourmet and Dog Tag Bakery at a discounted rate. Three to four-hundred people have joined the service in the app’s first week.

The idea for Dynos was born after Sharda travelled to India the summer after his freshman year. While in a local market with his grandfather, Sharda was struck by the bartering process over goods between vendors and shoppers.

“My grandfather took me to a market, and it’s very interesting because it was a bazaar where there were no fixed prices on anything,” Sharda said. “What I noticed was, over the hours, there’s a small little stand that was selling some sorts of delicate foods, and over the hours people would come up and they would negotiate and as it came to times that were away from lunch or dinner, the prices would go down substantially, and they would go back up later.”

After that day in the market, Sharda called Rutter, asking him to co-found an app that would allow restaurants and students to benefit from price fluctuations. Because neither Rutter nor Sharda had tech experience, they reached out to members of the Georgetown faculty for help. One of their advisers was economist and Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy professor George Akerlof.

Akerlof said the app is beneficial to both students and restaurants.

“They are taking advantage of the fact that the restaurants have times when the marginal cost to them of an extra customer is much less than at other times, and therefore if the app attracts extra customers at those times the restaurants are willing to give them a break (i.e. a discount),” Akerlof wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It is a Dynos-generated win for the restaurants, win-for-the-students.”

Rutter and Sharda also consulted with Eric Burger, a Georgetown research professor of computer science. Burger said he encouraged the students to formulate a business plan and tap into a market.

“I did, you know, help encourage them to find someone to actually do the programming, but more about how to start a business, how to get a business plan going, how to kind of find a market,” Burger said.

In addition to consulting with professors, Rutter and Sharda spoke to Loren Sumerlin, who runs the Auxiliary Services at Georgetown. Sumerlin provided them with insight on how to pitch their app to restaurants. The co-founders also worked with Students of Georgetown, Inc. on development and marketing strategies.

Rutter said he has noticed a lot of the support from the Georgetown community has emerged from a desire to promote a technologically savvy culture on campus.

“What we’ve noticed so far, not just from professors, but sort of from speaking to administration, like people in the administration, is they’re all really for the app, not for, not specifically because they like the idea, but it’s more so because they want to sort of like brand Georgetown as like a tech-friendly environment,” Rutter said.

While Dynos is seeing an increasing number of users, Rutter and Sharda are not currently making money from the app.

“The tough part with the app is that we’re sort of in this food space where we’re competing with Uber Eats and also Grub Hub,” Rutter said. “We’re not charging them a monthly fee to be on the app. That’s all things we hopefully can do in the future once we’ve like made a name for ourselves. But in terms of how we make money, we right now don’t have any cash flow coming in. We only have user flow.”

Rutter and Sharda hope to begin profiting from their app soon and expand the restaurant list to the Washington, D.C. area including American University and The George Washington University.

Sharda wants other Georgetown students to develop their entrepreneurship skills.

“I don’t know if creating an app necessarily is what I would recommend,” Sharda said. “But, broadly I think the core tenets that I would recommend that every student here at Georgetown, broadly, try to develop is entrepreneurship.”

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