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NomNom app makes giving easy

On May 2, 2014

Miami University alumnus Brent Bielinski launched his NomNom Nation app yesterday that allows people to donate to local food banks in the area.

Bielinski won support for his app idea February 2012 at Miami's first Startup Weekend now. It has come to fruition.

"Instead of having to go to the local grocery store, buy the food and find a foodbank to drop it off, you can now do that all from your phone using the NomNom app," Bielinski said.

According to Bielinski, the purpose of NomNom is to eliminate the donor hassle by allowing people to give money directly from their phone to a foodbank.

Along with four co-founders, Bielinski received help creating NomNom's from Miami's Startup Bootcamp, Inception to Prototype course.

"The following summer of 2012, I contacted the chair of the computer science department Dr. [James] Kiper to see if there were a senior software engineer major who wanted to do their capstone on building out the app prototype for us," Bielinski said.

The computer science students designed the app's architecture from Fall 2012 until Spring 2013.

"After graduating in Spring 2013, I was trying to figure out if I wanted to keep working on this," Bielinski said. "So I decided this was something I really wanted to do."

Bielinski said he showed his prototype app to Kaleidoscope, a design firm, and they decided to redesign it pro bono.

"It would have cost us $8,000," Bielinski said.

Bielinski had screenshots of the design, but said he did not have a developer.

"If you have a technology-based business, but you don't have a developer on your team, you're just a great idea, but nothing more," Bielinski said.

Miami junior computer software major Garrett Emrick made NomNom's compatible on Android operating systems.

Bielinski said they have a partnership with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks and they are committed to help grow the app to incorporate 12 Ohio foodbanks.

"Shared Harvest Foodbank is the local foodbank for Oxford and the Oxford Community Choice Pantry gets over 50 percent from them," Bielinski said. "The foodbank is the one that can turn the dollar into eight meals and by donating to foodbanks, it brings more money to local food pantries."

Registered dietitian and clinical faculty member in Miami's department of Kinesiology and Health Nancy Parkinson said NomNom will be a great tool for the local food pantry.

"It's a great opportunity for our local food pantry to receive resources using this program because the director of the pantry goes to the foodbank and we're giving him credit at that store to shop," Parkinson said.

Oxford was the natural launching point since all co-founders are or were Miami students.

"Every Greek community has a philanthropy chair and does charity work," Bielinski said. "And there are campus organizations with an initiative to end hunger or do philanthropy so from a student engagement stand point, that's what we're targeting."

Miami senior and nutrition major Katie Davis said campus organizations could utilize NomNom.

"I could see myself using NomNom, especially for a service project," Davis said.

The launch of NomNom initiated a month-long food race that takes place on the app. Users can create a group for their friends or for campus organizations and a scoreboard will let users see who in the group has donated the most, according to Bielinski.

"It's called a food race instead of a food drive because we're racing the food from your phone to your local foodbank," Bielinski said. "Our next target is businesses so they can create incentives within their company, help build goodwill and help end hunger."

Bielinski said a user can pick a dollar amount and see the impact of how many meals or pounds of food the user is providing. The other option is based on most needed items in which users can allocate money to be spent on particular items including nonfood items such as diapers.

"The last option is a monthly meal subscription plan and users can put how many meals per day and how many times per month they want to provide those meals," Bielinski said.

Despite NomNom's launch on only the Android, Bielinski said the iOS version for iPhone users will arrive by June 1.

"The first month is a small pilot test to get some people engaged," Bielinski said. "Our hope is to at least get feedback from those who download on Android."

Bielinski said he believes the philosophy of NomNom is that donating should be a fun and rewarding experience.

"NomNom has a friendly competition aspect built into it and it's a great way to create rivalry among friends to compete to help end hunger," Bielinski said.

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