Tauranga has its very own café ordering app.
Sarky Oh and Ben Knowles started Coffee Nexus to help small cafés in their hometown become digitally accessible.
“Ordering through an app makes social distancing easier because people spend less time on the premises and it provides contact tracing,” says Sarky.
“To do our bit to help, the app is free to use for business until June 15, and customers receive a 10 per cent discount on in-app purchases.”
While the app is a useful tool to help businesses operate during COVID-19, Sarky originally designed Coffee Nexus to reduce the time it takes to buy a morning coffee.
“Already existing apps like Uber Eats are just unaffordable for your everyday family owned cafes. I thought I know how to code – this is something I can do.”
After months of developing, Sarky had the bare bones of the app, but reached a standstill.
“I’m a hobby-programmer, but Ben is a professional one. We met through a mutual friend and he decided to come on board. He gave the app a chance when nobody else did.”
As small-world New Zealand would have it, the pair were surprised they hadn’t met prior to working together.
“We both grew up in Tauranga, I went to Boy’s High and Ben went to Bethlehem College. What’s weirder, I flatted with his neighbour in Christchurch while studying.”
With Ben’s expertise, Coffee Nexus was ready to launch mid-March, before disaster hit.
“We had several café’s sign up, and then they all had to close as we went into lockdown.”
Business stalled until Alert Level 3, when just one of their cafés, Otto Eatery, opened for business.
“Otto’s have been extremely supportive. They’re a family owned business with only one shop, which is exactly the kind of business Coffee Nexus is made for.
“What started off as a way for me to skip queues, turned into helping local businesses make social distancing easier.”
Coffee Nexus has two apps, one for customers to make their order, and another for café owners to receive and manage orders.
Times may be tight, but Sarky and Ben’s belief in the project remains.
“We have development plans for the next three years. Now it is just a matter of getting users and more businesses signed up.
“We’re in the process of applying for funding with the hope of remaining free-to-use for local businesses for as long as possible.”
The App is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Tauranga cafes and eateries who would like more information can email Sarky at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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