Lubar students are benefitting from the entrepreneurial environment in the Lubar School of Business and at the UWM campus as a whole. Business and entrepreneurship classes, advice from faculty members, entrepreneur internships, the campus chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, and their own ideas and motivation, make it possible for students to try out ideas without a huge investment. This is one of a series of profiles of students who are developing their own small businesses.
Have you ever arrived at a restaurant or bar to find that the deal that lured you in had expired?
Ben Bourgeois, a UWM senior in marketing, teamed up with Brian Kopp, a friend and UWM nursing alum, to solve the problem with MealSteals. Their app, available on iTunes and Google Play, alerts potential customers to deals at 120 local restaurants and bars. The businesses can post recurring specials, but what is unique about the app is the real-time postings of “flash deals,” specials that pop up for an hour or so.
Businesses can use the flash deals to draw in customers at slow times, and customers are assured that specials posted through the app are current.
Right now, Bourgeois and Kopp are running it as a pilot project while they work on ways to make it financially successful. In recent months, they’ve added new team members to launch the app in Chicago, planned for sometime in the next few months.
They are also rolling out a new feature for business owners/managers to post ad update deals right from their phone. They will also be selecting a few businesses to test out MealSteals premium features on the new app to drive additional traffic during any given deal period.
“These premium features will ultimately be paid features and will be rolled out to any business shortly after the Chicago launch,” said Bourgeois.
Bourgeois said he benefitted from Jim Hunter’s entrepreneurship course as well as another class on building a lean tech startup. Hunter is an entrepreneur-in-residence in the Lubar School and a highly successful entrepreneur.
An internship with BuySeasons came through a Lubar career fair, and provided Bourgeois with a wealth of internet and social marketing experience. Bourgeois and Kopp also won a Startup competition at UWM last summer.
“Everybody likes deals,” said Bourgeois.