New app displays bar cover


Kenyon Edmond

Students wait to enter the Red Lion on March 1 for Unofficial.

By Grace Maloney, Staff writer

The weekend has arrived. You get dressed up, call your friends and start making your way toward your favorite campus bars, only to find out the cover charge is $20 when you were expecting $10.

Many students at the University have undoubtedly encountered similar issues, and it’s quite the inconvenience if you did not bring enough cash to pay the cover.

CoverMe, a new app which launched Feb. 18, aims to solve this problem and provide convenience for bar-goers on campus.

New app provides live information about bar covers and deals

Cover Me, a new app that launched Feb. 18, aims to provide convenience for local bar-goers. Instagram: @TheDailyIllini Twitter: @TheDailyIllini

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“Last year, I was thinking it would be nice to know the bar data before going out,” said John Chomiak, creator of the app and junior in LAS.

The CoverMe app provides its users with the current covers at bars on campus as well as special drink deals at each bar. Though it is currently only available on the Apple App Store, there are plans to expand it in the future, Chomiak said.

“I started from scratch about six months ago,” Chomiak said. “I knew really nothing about iOS development. The issue I’ve had is that you can only code on Apple devices and I have a Windows laptop. So I do all my work at the (Undergraduate Library).”

The app is built around user participation, Chomiak said.

“If the price is wrong, you can click a button that says price is wrong, and it prompts you to update it,” Chomiak said.

This system has been successful so far, and the cover prices have been pretty accurate. After the first week, there were over 2,000 downloads, Chomiak said.

Evan Eckels, freshman in Engineering, has been helpful with graphic design, Chomiak said. The two teamed up for the creating and design process.

One of the most challenging parts of the app was creating something that looked professional, Chomiak said.

Eckels said they worked on the app a lot over winter break, so they had a prototype ready coming into this semester.

“It was really difficult to get something that looked nice,” Chomiak said. “Coding it was one thing, but to really make it pop out, to have people click on it and think, ‘Wow this looks nice.’ I think that’s a big way to retain users. If it’s just a cruddy app, no one is going to use it.”

The marketing and financial side was also an important component of CoverMe. Kayra Yasa and Luc Dowell, both freshmen in Engineering, led this area of the app.

“I’m tracking all the data to see what are our selling points, like the local businesses that we can contact for the advertisements,” Yasa said.

The app is free, so the team is looking to sell advertising space on CoverMe.

“We are going to reach local businesses that have the same target audience as we do and advertise through banner ads,” Yasa said.

CoverMe has a very niche college student group, typically ranging between 18 and 22, who are using the app. This is very valuable to certain advertisers, such as local restaurants, so the group is trying to leverage that, Eckels said.

“They have the same target audience, so they’d be more than willing to invest in an app that has thousands of users who are currently clicking on it and actively using it,” Yasa said.

CoverMe was aggressively advertised, especially during the few weeks leading up to its release. The group keeps up on Facebook and Instagram, as well as hanging up flyers and posters about CoverMe.

“Because we’re specifically targeting the young population here, it’s very important for us to be constantly with the student body. We don’t want to lose traction,” Dowell said.

Being a part of the target audience for CoverMe, the group hears about its app all the time, Eckels said.

“People are talking about it,” Eckels said. “It’s kind of nice just being in the general population and hearing what people are saying. I know that in other businesses, they maybe won’t be a part of their target audience to really know what they’re saying about it.”

There were a few other apps out there similar to the idea behind CoverMe, but these other apps did not gain the same reach CoverMe already has, Eckels said.

Still, the team wanted to make sure CoverMe reached its target market and advertised first, Yasa said.

“(The other apps) also were not really updating the drink deals or cover prices,” Eckels said. “We were just more on top of that. And I think that’s part of what helped us get out there.”

The team is focusing on building a strong user base for the app so when people are using it a lot, it can be self-sustaining in a sense, Dowell said.

“As opposed to maybe having only three or four reports a night where it can be pretty inaccurate, maybe if we have around 20 or 30, that could increase the accuracy of our application,” Dowell said.

The team also wants to push the community aspect of the app, Yasa said.

“It’s a network of students trying to help each other out … I think that network idea has to be pushed a lot more in terms of helping each other,” Yasa said. “Push that button so that others know.”

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