Conquering Yale, One Reward at a Time

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The cute bowl of noodles on the bright blue background has become a ubiquitous icon around Yale. It’s Snackpass, an app that lets students (and non-students!) get great deals and skip lines at New Haven restaurants and share rewards with their friends while giving local businesses an influx of customers and sales. The app is the brainchild of Kevin Tan and Jamie Marshall, two Yale College students whose app has won over the majority of undergrads – more than 4,000! – as well 50 restaurants and growing in New Haven. In total, the app now has 6,000 users and brings in over $100,000 in sales per month. The cofounders are currently participating in the Tsai CITY Accelerator program. Below, we talk to cofounder Kevin about how they’re doing it.

1.       There are 5,453 undergrads at Yale and over 4,000 are using Snackpass. How did you get that level of buy-in?

Kevin: It all happened in just a couple months through word of mouth. Freshmen coming to Yale say Snackpass is one of the first things they hear about. The app is very social, so students ask each other for their codes, and send each other gifts. Everyone who lives off campus loves it because you don’t have to wait in line. One crew guy said to me “If someone is living off campus and they are not on Snackpass, it’s weird.”

2.     What do students love about the app?

Kevin: It saves time. You can order ahead, skip the line, save money and get deals all in one place. [editor’s note: recent deals on Snackpass include 25% the first order at Salsa Fresca and 25% off for new customers at Brick Oven Pizza as well as 99-cent smoothies at Tropical Smoothie Café. Collect rewards for everything from free coffee at Book Trader Café to a free footlong at Subway]. Only Snackpass users get these promotions. You can also send gifts to your friends. For every purchase you get a reward point and one to share. Now we’ve added a feature where you can share anything. I can send you scallion pancakes at Ivy Wok. [editor’s note: please do!] There are also fun emojis.

3.       Snackpass is growing fast – how do you keep up?

Kevin: We recently brought on 12 interns and we have 60 ambassadors – there were a lot of students that wanted to work with us. We’ve built a strong consumer brand and we’ve made working with us fun. The ambassadors all get a “supercode” which never expires to use at the various businesses. They also get stars every time they refer someone or post on Snapchat and there’s a leaderboard keeping track on our app. They love the competition and it keeps people in the know marketing-wise.

4.       What are the advantages to the businesses?

Kevin: We bring restaurants like Juice Box, Good Nature Market and Popeye’s significant increased revenue each month. They are getting a lot of value out of us. Tropical Smoothie was not well known and now they’re huge with kids Insta-ing their smoothies before they go to class. They’ve actually had to hire more people to keep up.

5.       Where is Snackpass headed next?

Kevin: We’re trying it out at Dartmouth and will be expanding to Providence next. We’re going to create a Snackpass sales team at each university campus and have them run it in each region.

Ready to try it? Download Snackpass at the Apple Store. And don’t worry Android users – the interns are hard at work on the Android version!

CONTACT: Brita Belli, Communications Officer, Tsai CITY, brita.belli@yale.edu, (203) 804-1911.

Brita Belli