In today’s on-demand economy, consumers have come to expect better service faster. Fireflies, a peer-to-peer food delivery app, delivers users just that.
The idea was born about a year and a half ago out of the MIT Bitcoin Project, which challenged students to develop Bitcoin-related innovations. Samuel Udotong and his two co-founders Om Mahida and Krish Ramineni initially imagined a community-based task sharing app that allowed users to request favours of other users, paid for with Bitcoin. The team ended up winning the competition’s “Awesome Award” and $1,500. They’ve since narrowed the focus to food delivery and have expanded payment options to include Venmo, credit card, and PayPal. After two iterations, Udotong and his team are have launched on MIT’s campus.
Udotong, now an aerospace engineering senior at MIT, tackles all the Android programming and is heavily involved in on-the-ground marketing. Mahida is leading the iOS engineering initiative and legal compliance..Ramineni is defining product and user experience along with scaling business operations. In addition, the team has campus managers at MIT, Drexel, Rutgers, and BU and is looking to start cultivating networks on more campuses to get the app launched.
Fireflies is a peer-to-peer delivery concept at its core, but emphasizes convenience and community. Say, for example, you want a snack from a nearby store. On a college campus, it’s likely that one of your friends or neighbors is probably at or near the store and will be coming back shortly. Fireflies matches you with the right person at the right time and place. The deliverer gets a cash incentive for not going out of his or her way, and you get your item faster than you could have gotten it yourself.
Fireflies uses Sinch for Flash Call Verification and SMS, in case the Flash Call is outdated. “That’s pretty crucial for us, so that we can provide our users with a way to communicate,” said Udotong. “User security is a top priority because we want to create a trusted network of peers handling deliveries. That’s where Sinch comes into play, with phone numbers and a way to verify users are actually who they say they are.”
Udotong added that the API was straightforward and easy to use.
“Sinch supports Flash Call, which was super, super awesome and after implementation, it was very easy to integrate,” he said.
“Now it’s all about growth,” said Sam. “All the effort that we put into development in the past couple months is going to turn into effort on the ground and we are starting at MIT.”
The team is offering free deliveries six hours per night during school nights to encourage students to download the app. Eventually, when enough students download it and are requesting deliveries, the app will have the critical mass needed to have students start delivering items conveniently to each other. The team is also going to start implementing the special at campuses like BU and Drexel. By January and February, they hope to start raising funding.
The app is currently available for download on Android and is coming soon to iOS.
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