Student App Provides Real-Time Link Between Restaurants and Hungry Customers

So often one has many lunch options with no real standout choice. Or perhaps a large group would like to find a place without having to go to every nearby restaurant to see if that would be feasible. While Yelp, OpenTable and other resources allow for plenty of coordination by hungry customers, there is no easy way for them to broadcast their needs or requests to all nearby restaurants shortly before the meal.

That’s why a team of Hack Reactor students built Pronto.

“Our cohort likes to get lunch or dinner together, but it’s hard to find a place that can seat 20-something people,” says Jimmy Tsao, who had the original concept for Pronto. “We thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we could query all the places in the area to see who can accommodate us. I did a small hackathon project to create a proof of concept.”

Tsao’s vision is that one could ping all the restaurants who use Pronto in a radius determined by the user with a specific request. Restaurants could respond at will. He built the app with fellow Hack Reactor students Joe Dou and Jeffrey Ghou.

The same method could be used to fish for deals.

“First, it’s an accommodation system,” Tsao explains. “Second there’s a lot of opportunity for restaurants to offer discounts and the user gets benefits from that. So it’s a win win situation.”

For example, a restaurant with too many empty seats could offer a free appetizer to Pronto users who contact them looking for a deal.

“This is a space that not a lot of people have dove into yet,” says Dou. “Perishable goods: No one’s really tackled goods that are perishable in the next couple of hours.”

Pronto was built as the first of two major group projects that Hack Reactor students undertake in the second half of the course. It is often the first time students get to apply technologies learned in the first six weeks at Hack Reactor.

“The technologies that went into Pronto were either the ones we learned last or had no experience with,” Ghou recalls. While this made the more project more challenging, these challenges made the exercise more valuable.

“If we were doing it now, we’d be able to bang through it very quickly,” Tsao notes. “The first six weeks [at Hack Reactor] helped us learn how to learn.”

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