Ryan O’Dowd and his team of three are a bunch of young and ambitious developers that have created a newly-launched social app for the millions. Spread across the country, and coming straight from university, here is why you want to have lunch with this bunch!
Graduating in 2014 with an Honors Bachelor of Science in Computer Science plus a Master of Science in Software Engineering, Ryan is quite an impressive entrepreneur despite (or because of) his young age. Besides his passion for running, whistling, spending his lunch money at Chick-fil-A, and playing ping-pong, he obviously loves computing. Ryan got to know some like-minded developers through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at The University of Delaware, and as soon as they had graduated (one year after himself), they all started working on LunchBunch.
LunchBunch is the app that connects people for meals. The idea is that instead of sending various texts, emails, or going down to the local café to see who is there, users simply can log into the app and find out who is up for a meal! The plan also is to partner with local restaurants, sending their users coupons and suggestions for the best meals in the area.
“Once you get a group of people to get a meal together at a certain time, the first question you usually ask is ‘where do you wanna go?’”
Mainly targeting university students and professionals, the team is hoping to reach 10K MAU’s by the end of the year, but as Ryan says, “That number is a bit arbitrary. Ideally, we can scale to the millions, but starting off, our first benchmark is 10K users.”
In August, when I got to talk to Ryan, the team had been working hard on the mobile app for about five months. For everyone in the team, LunchBunch is a first when it comes to publicly-released projects. “Each of us is working on a different component, and I am proud of the progress my team has made in the past five short months,” Ryan explained. As the CEO of the company, he proudly stated that “it’s great leading developers who are eager to learn and create an app that brings people together.”
While writing, LunchBunch is using Sinch for sending security codes to users with forgotten passwords. “We’ve really enjoyed using you so far,” Ryan told me. They are planning to add another Sinch SDK, enabling friends to send invites to non-users.
“It was actually super simple to set up, so kudos to you guys for that.”
Ryan read an article about Sinch in TechCrunch last year. “I didn’t have an immediate need for the service, but I bookmarked it just thinking it was a cool concept and a cool company. Then, when we started developing this app, Sinch immediately came to mind. After looking at different companies and doing some Google searching for other competitors, Sinch still looked like the best option,” Ryan said.
“I thought it looked really cool!”
I asked Ryan about the biggest challenge with integrating Sinch into the app. Funny thing, his answer was something like: “Uuhm, biggest challenge… Uuh. Actually, it wasn’t that difficult; it wasn’t even that many lines of code,” followed by a laugh. Nice! But I kept pushing; surely there must have been some difficulties?
“Oh actually, there was one issue when we first started. We were still in sandbox mode, and there was some kind of issue verifying my phone number,” Ryan explained. “But the Sinch support was great with that! We emailed back and forth a couple of times. Apparently there was an issue with the underlying provider, because the verification code wasn’t sent to my device. Once that got cleared up, everything worked pretty smoothly.”
“Sinch does an excellent job when it comes to the big things like SMS integration for sending security codes,” Ryan told me. He could not think of any missing feature that he would like to see added in the future.
“It’s a very simple way to add SMS integration from our experience, for sure!”
I’m not going to lie; I’m thrilled to hear that the guys at LunchBunch are so happy working with the Sinch team. And we are happy working with them, as they have just launched a great app for keeping lunches social. And speaking of which, now it’s time for lunch with my bunch.
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