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App connects customers with food truck businesses

App+connects+customers+with+food+truck+businesses
Special to The Prospector

As part of a summer internship program, four UTEP students partnered with web design and marketing agency Spectrum Solutions for the development of Food Chasers, a mobile application that aims to connect food truck owners with their customers.

“Food trucks are a new emerging industry that is growing and starting to emerge here in El Paso,” Spectrum Solutions Vice President John Hernandez said. “They’re a great place to eat and El Paso has a wide variety of them. This is just kind of our fun project we’re doing with UTEP to help local business owners in El Paso.”

Food Chasers allows for food truck owners to share information such as schedules, locations and promotions with those who have downloaded the app. The application is currently free to both customers and food truck owners and is available in the Android and iOS markets.

“I saw that they were making mobile apps and thought working with mobile apps would be good experience, so it seemed like a good option for me,” senior computer science major Christopher Gandarilla said.

Gandarilla was one of the four UTEP students who helped in developing Food Chasers.

The application will notify users when one of their favorite food trucks is nearby. It also features a loyalty rewards system. Linked to their own Food Chasers accounts, app users will receive a personal bar code to be scanned by food truck owners whenever they make a purchase to acquire Food Coins, which can be exchanged for coupons for those food trucks.

“I find (Food Chasers) useful when I want good food without the struggle of looking or driving all over El Paso,” freshman criminal justice major Rubie Moreno said. “Being free also makes it more appealing for other users.”

To commemorate the application’s launch, Food Chasers will host The Last Hunt of the Food Truck, from Nov. 17 to 21, which will be a scavenger hunt where a riddle will be given each day, with the answer being one of five food trucks. Participants will “favorite” the answer, allowing them to receive a notification saying where the food truck will offer free and discounted items the following day.

“Working on a product that will be used by the public is a good experience,” Gandarilla said. “This process has helped me learn things that are not taught in classes and allowed me to apply the things that I have learned in classes.”

Spectrum Solutions plans to release an app similar to Food Chasers aimed at aiding other small business owners in promoting their products and services. Like Food Chasers, the app will reward customers who visit these businesses. The app is made to serve as a replacement for the common punch-card system used by
various businesses.

Sweet Addiction food truck owner Palo Treja said that Facebook has been his main connection to customers for two years, but Facebook has made recent changes to the way information reaches customers and small businesses’ posts get lost in the customers’ news feed.

“The Food Chasers app will allow us to be in direct contact with customers,” Treja said.

While currently only applicable to food trucks in El Paso and Austin,  Food Chasers plans to expand to other cities in the near future as well as offering a desktop version in the coming months. Spectrum Solutions plans to release an update to the app that allows for Food Coins to be interchangeable between food trucks, encouraging food truck owners to promote each other. To download the app, create an account or register your own food truck, visit foodchasersapp.com.

Joseph Esposito may be reached at [email protected].

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App connects customers with food truck businesses