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Gonzaga grads provide app solution for a dinnertime problem as old as time

Former Gonzaga University classmates, from left, Cody Lippert, Chloe Sabo and Hope Morgan have created WildRide, a way for groups of friends to find new restaurants and bars by letting the mobile app choose the destination. They are shown at StartUp Spokane, a coworking space where they work, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Former Gonzaga University classmates, from left, Cody Lippert, Chloe Sabo and Hope Morgan have created WildRide, a way for groups of friends to find new restaurants and bars by letting the mobile app choose the destination. They are shown at StartUp Spokane, a coworking space where they work, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

It is a problem we have all faced before: What do you want to eat tonight?

From making the decision alone between what you’re craving more that minute to trying to get a group of friends to agree on even what kind of food to eat, picking a restaurant can be quite the hassle.

Three Gonzaga University graduates may have found an answer to this stomach-growling problem, though.

WildRide was developed originally as a class project by Hope Morgan, Chloe Sabo and Cody Lippert and two other classmates who have since left the company for other jobs.

Morgan, WildRide’s CEO, said the assignment was to pair together two words and see what entrepreneurial ideas you could come up with from that. Her words were “roulette” and “Uber.”

And so evolved the mobile app WildRide.

“We just kind of took a whack at it and it kind of took off,” Morgan said.

The app selects a mystery restaurant or bar based on a variety of criteria you set, said Sabo, the company COO. Users select a price range they want to stay within and choose if they would rather order an Uber ride to their destination or receive turn-by-turn directions.

There are also more features in the works, such as allowing users to select a certain neighborhood they want to end up in or a feature that will allow users to opt out of certain kinds of foods they dislike or know they aren’t in the mood for.

“You aren’t told where you are going until you are about 500 feet from the destination,” Sabo said. “It takes the pressure out of planning out where you want to go.”

CFO Lippert said the app receives all of its destination information from Yelp.

“This also gives us a chance to do quality control,” he said, adding they require at least a four-star rating or above on Yelp with at least 100 or more reviews from customers to be included in the app’s database.

Launched in May, WildRide currently includes about 70 destinations in Spokane and is in early testing phases in Coeur d’Alene, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Denver and Los Angeles. So far, it has been downloaded by 2,000 users.

Now all graduated from Gonzaga, the business majors said they didn’t expect the class assignment to take off like it did.

“I didn’t know it would go all the way that it has,” Lippert said. Morgan added the class was technology entrepreneurship, so they had an idea what was in store but didn’t anticipate taking it this far.

Sabo said kick-starting the app took a lot more planning than they initially realized.

“We were all business majors, so we understand technology but are not coders,” Morgan said.

To solve that problem, the team hired a freelance coder through the website UpWork.com, but the team still had to present a clear idea of how it wanted the app to look and function and understand every step to get there as they collaborated with the freelancer.

“We had some long hours trying to figure these things out,” Sabo said. “Loving and believing in it is a huge part of it.”

Lippert added with a laugh: “Let me tell you, I work on this app seven days a week.”

Since the team’s graduation in the fall, WildRide, which was started with $15,000 in personal investments by the group, has become a full-time job. Currently, WildRide is free to users and free for restaurants and bars to be featured, but eventually the group hopes to have a flat fee that businesses will pay per every person brought through the door via WildRide.

But for now, the user experience has been the main focus, Lippert said. The majority of feedback has been positive, the group said, with the biggest complaint being that it doesn’t yet work in other cities.


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