Nothing beats a good deal, but spending endless amounts of time cutting coupons and scouring sale racks can make deal-hunting time consuming.
The Winona area now has an app for that.
On January 20, SniffIt, an application for the iPhone and Android smartphones, launched. The app started as a list of drink specials for students but now provides daily retail, bar, coffeehouse and restaurant specials in the Winona area.
SniffIt allows users to view daily deals in Winona. The app features Google Maps to help users find deals, and a color-coded directory allows users to see future specials as well.
The app began as an idea for online university tours. Along with a virtual online tour of the university, Winona State University students Andrew Klinkner, Nick Donnelly and Trevor Lyga wanted to show visitors everything about the city. Lyga helped create the app but is now the consultant for the company.
“We wanted to basically open up the town, or whatever city you’re in, and show you everything in one app,” Donnelly, head of the LTD department of the app, said.
This was the beginning of SniffIt. The idea for the university tours eventually became too big, but the creators decided their secondary mission was still plausible. They went forward with the design of an app that brought local deals to users.
The Winona community has responded positively with more than 900 application downloads, 800 Facebook likes and 2600 Twitter followers.
Other applications provide the user with a map of businesses nearby, some provide deals, but SniffIt aspires to be a hybrid, one-stop shop application where the user can find the deals that surround them.
“There are all these different apps that tell you these different things, and we’re basically trying to take one or two things from each that we like and throw it all into one,” Klinkner said.
Donnelly, Lyga, and Klinkner, all 23, brought in 20-year-old WSU student Alex Corcoran to develop a beta version of the app for the iPhone. The Android platform followed within a week after SniffIt brought in Eric Petzel, 23, a WSU graduate and software developer for the Mayo Clinic.
“Alex and Eric are absolutely brilliant,” said Lyga said. “It’s just bizarre how fast they get these things done. We couldn’t have done any of this without them, obviously.”
They believe maintaining a simple design will allow them to expand to demographics outside of college students looking for cheap drinks.
“The way it’s mapped out, it’s easy to use,” Winona State University student Bryce Curtis said. “I use it everyday. That’s how I figured out I knew it was a good app.”
Curtis recently visited Rubio's, a Mexican restaurant on the app, after checking the daily specials.
Rochester Wholesale Fruit joined the app Monday and is excited about its potential to pull in new customers, like Curtis.
“We have a lot of specialties I think (college students) would love,” said Nikki Stanton, owner of Rochester Wholesale Fruit. “They just don’t know about us.”
Businesses, like Rochester Wholesale Fruit, will get the first month of SniffIt free. Currently, SniffIt receives no funding or revenue stream, but the free trial has given owners a taste of what the app can do for their business.
“There’s little to no effort on my end of it,” said Cheater’s Bar & Lounge manager, Ross Fahey. “I pretty much just shoot them a text message when I figure out all my deals and they’re doing all the advertising for me and it’s all at your fingertips.”
Soon, businesses like Cheater’s Bar & Lounge will be able to log on to their SniffIt website account to update the specials themselves. This will allow a business to directly reach customers on their smartphones, a resource Fahey thinks every business needs to take advantage of.
“They’re obviously going to make a profit off it,” Fahey said. “Because if competitors on Third Street have it, you don’t want to be the only bar on Third Street that’s not included on this app.”
If the app proves to be successful, SniffIt will look to go beyond the borders of Winona by expanding the app to other areas.
Regardless of where and how far the app goes, the creators said they would remain loyal to Winona and the roots of the app. They credit their education and what they have learned from WSU to the start of the app.
Brining the app to new cities is just the beginning. Sharing a deal with a friend and organizing bar crawls are future installments that Klinkner and Donnelly plan to bring to the app. This gives users the ability to not only interact with their phones, but with others using the app as well.
“Sniffing out” the best deal, however, will always be the theme.
“If you’re online and you want to search something you Google it,” Klinkner said. “But if you want to find a deal you SniffIt.”