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NIU student’s app links merchants, shoppers

DeKALB – One Northern Illinois University student hopes his mobile app will soon be used by people all over the world.

Ben Gardner is the co-founder of Dealyhoo, a free app that allows users to receive offers and coupons from local businesses.

The app, which was launched about a year ago, mostly features businesses in DeKalb and Sycamore, but Gardner said he hopes it’ll grow much bigger.

“We’re trying to create a large community of merchants and consumers,” he said.

Gardner works with his business partner, Marius Morosanu, to offer a place where the mom-and-pop’s of the service industry can communicate to consumers about what they’re offering, Gardner said.

The duo met while working together with software security at NIU. Gardner is working toward a master’s degree in computer science and a certificate in mobile app development. Morosanu took courses at NIU.

Morosanu, who now lives in Austin, Texas, and is trying to bring Dealyhoo there, said the app is helping local businesses.

There are thousands of businesses signed up with Dealyhoo, Morosanu said, with about 20 businesses actively using the app.

Some local businesses include Giordano’s in Sycamore and Pita Pete’s in DeKalb.

The number of people downloading the app changes daily, with 382 users as of Thursday, Morosanu said.

“So far, the reception has been really well,” Morosanu said. “We put together a package that is unique. People are surprised at how many things our software can do.”

Here’s how Dealyhoo works: Businesses can sign up for free and begin to post special events and offers using a dashboard system called the fanbase. Users receive updates on the businesses they show interest in whenever they want, which means users can personalize when they receive updates rather than be interrupted by constant updates, Gardner said.

“That’s the beautiful part about it,” he said. “We’re reaching these people on their time when they want to hear it. They’re going to be in a pleasant mood.”

The duo also is working on an updated version of the app that will allow users to view and rate each item on a restaurant’s menu, and merchants will be able to send users emails and text messages about special deals. The next version of Dealyhoo will be available in about a month and a half, Morosanu said.

Morosanu is in the process of hiring a sales team while he works on the engineering aspect of the business.

He said he’s not worried about working halfway across the country with Gardner, his business partner.

“We’re living in an age where proximity isn’t always the biggest factor,” Morosanu said. “We can always get a hold of each other regardless of where we are.”

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