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QMUL students show their entrepreneurial spirit with new lunch deal app

Tuesday 22 September 2015

James Quigly and Uche Aniagwu are currently in their fifth year of Medicine at QMUL. Together with Computer Science student Vahizan Vijayanathan, they have developed the new lunch deal app Yapnak, which looks for tasty offers for students. 

Tell us about your app and what it does. What gave you the idea for your App?
The Yapnak app has been born out of the repetitive monotony of trudging down to Sainsbury’s every lunch time and getting a meal deal. Considering the local area and the variety on offer, we set out to find good quality restaurants willing to serve a meal deal for £5. We’ve been overwhelmed by the response from the local restaurants.

Reducing the cognitive effort of our students to find a great lunch is at the forefront of the business. We really aim to appeal to our users, removing the issue of price from the market (everything is £5) which leaves the competitive emphasis truly on the quality of the meal on offer and the user experience within those restaurants. Yapnak also tries to provide a simpler option than Foursquare or Yelp to finding new hidden gems within walking distance.

The Yapnak logo, designed by QMUL alumna Maria d'Amico

How did you choose its name?
We were kind of stuck trying to find a catchy name that really caught the imagination.  With the help of a great designer, QMUL almuna Maria d’Amico, we developed the Yapnak monster on our logo (just a monster at the time). When we stumbled, fortuitously, upon the Turkish translation for ‘to do a deal’ or ‘anlasma yapmak’ the ‘yapmak’ part, for some reason, really stuck with us. Obviously we adapted it slightly to Yapnak – but we hope it fits in with the fun (hungry) picture our logo poses. It did turn into an amusing talking point the first time we met with Efes, one Turkish restaurant featured on Yapnak.

Where do you see your business developing over the next few years?
Who knows? Right now I really don’t see a limit on what we are achieving. We already have plans in place for version 2 – to be released a month after launch – which will change the face of customer interaction with restaurants and vice versa. The target is to do what Snapchat did to pictures, Uber did to taxis and Facebook did to Bebo in a market where, personally, I’m really not convinced (from a user’s perspective) by JustEat, Yelp, and similar apps. Who knows, in the next few years Yapnak could revolutionise the way we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What has been your worst and best moment so far?
I did laugh when I saw this question! I could write all day about the worst moments! From missed deadlines, terrible meetings, foot-in-mouth moments and the utter embarrassment which accompanies all of them! However, these are all outweighed by seeing your product journey from conception through to fruition – the day we submitted to the app store felt great. All the hard work to get to a tangible final target was brilliant. However, I’m truly looking forward to the next moment – seeing some real user validation and interaction with Yapnak.  Having an idea you think is great is one thing, market research agreeing with you is another - but to get see Yapnak in the hands of thousands of Queen Mary students will be my, and the team’s, proudest moment to date.

What advice would you give to other budding student entrepreneurs at Queen Mary?
Go for it! My biggest regret was wasting my first few years at university not working on something. We are in such a privileged position whilst at uni. We have spare time, we have a student loan, and we have the freedom of mind to dream up great ideas! Stop thinking about your great idea and make it a reality!  My second bit of advice would be not to stop. If your first, second and third idea fails (like mine) then go for the fourth! The failures will have taught you so much along the way which immediately stands your next idea in better stead for success.

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