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‘App’ing into the market of mobile devices

December 5, 2013
Ben Gardner and Marius Morosanu

Ben Gardner and Marius Morosanu

NIU offers students the ability to learn how to create their own mobile apps in a series of courses offered through the Department of Computer Science.

Courses such as CSCI 321, CSCI 322 and CSCI 323 teach students how to write apps for the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and other mobile device platforms.

NIU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Provost’s Office and Information Technology Services have developed a smart classroom for all the coursework and equipped each workspace with both Apple and Microsoft computers.

Students in the program are encouraged to apply what they are learning in class to their own app development projects. By incorporating real-world experience with what he is learning in the program, Ben Gardner has done just that.

The computer science student – who is also an IT technical associate in Human Resource Services – and his entrepreneur business partner have created a mobile app to connect customers with businesses in the DeKalb and Sycamore area. Dealyhoo showcases a collection of deals, sales and events for local businesses.

“The app is simple and secure,” Gardner says. “You can download it for free via the Apple App Store or Google Play and connect with your favorite businesses to receive texts and alerts about discounts or events they are having.”

“The goal is to help businesses deliver content offers of their own,” Dealyhoo co-founder Marius Morosanu added. “Other sites like this don’t give merchants a chance to control their own media independently.”

Dealyhoo logoPita Pete’s in DeKalb, a favorite restaurant of the two founders, has one of Dealyhoo’s most recent features: advanced table top cards. The free personalized cards have a scanable QR code that will connect customers to the business’ page on Dealyhoo so they can receive future alerts. Dealyhoo also has a new app that can be used to scan the QR codes called Dealyhoo QR.

People can set up recurring texts or pings to control how many alerts they receive and ensure that they are relative to their interests, Gardner said.

“With Dealyhoo,” he said, “only the sites you want send you information, and you can set default alert times to twice a week or daily around lunch time.”

Each business has its own dashboard page to post offers, events, emails and automated text messages to control the schedule of their campaigns. Dealyhoo’s enterprise product allows businesses to have their own branded apps created, such as Niche Restaurant in Geneva, one of the company’s enterprise clients.

Dealyhoo’s free community product also offers smaller business without a large budget to join in on the mobile marketing platform.

Photo of hands using a smart phone“The community product allows merchants who can’t afford the marketing but really need it to still use Dealyhoo and reach out to their customers through the app,” Gardner said. “We are very much in development mode and looking to involve non-profits very soon as well.”

The two founders spent the past year working on the development of the website and the mobile app.

Gardner’s tech savvy skills and Morosanu’s background in design and programming allowed the two to create everything for the site on their own. They labored diligently to incorporate Dealyhoo and copyright the name, set up the website and launch sales and outreach activity.

With working full-time and developing Dealyhoo, the two tallied several late 3 a.m. nights.

Gardner, who continues to pursue his graduate certificate for app development from NIU, is eager to take more mobile device programming courses on campus that teach students how to build and maintain applications for mobile devices that use Apple’s iOS operating system.

“I want to expand what I already know now,” Gardner said. “The more I learn in the class, the more I can implement for my projects.”

Even though Gardner and Morosanu plan to expand Dealyhoo into the Chicagoland area and beyond, they are proud and excited about starting in DeKalb and the impact the company has made on the community.

“It’s important for businesses to understand that if they want to compete they need to be connected to users,” Morosanu said. “Dealyhoo gives the smaller ‘Ma and Pa’ businesses a high-tech advantage that normally would only be reserved for the bigger brands that have huge advertising budgets.”

by Chonce Maddox