A Student Start-Up That Finds Free Food

Found this innovative new campus based technology called Food-Bot.com, created by Carnegie Mellon University Senior Greg Woloschyn. As the ‘project’ spreads to many other campuses, its clear the makings of a firm are there. From Ben Wieder of the Wired Campus at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

As a senior at Carnegie Mellon University last year, Greg Woloschyn went five months without paying for food. His secret: Foot-Bot, software he created that now helps students on campuses across the country.

The computer-science student and his friends, during their earlier college careers, had—like many students on tight budgets—scoured the campus for events offering free food. Mr. Woloschyn decided to use his programming skills to aid in the effort.

He first created an e-mail account that could screen messages from every mailing list on campus, searching for mention of food-related keywords such as “snack,” “cookie,” and “pizza.”

On his winter break, he decided to write a program, which he called Food-Bot, that would scan messages and event listings and use the information to populate a food calendar on an open Web site.

That’s how he fueled his five months of free eating. “It was a pretty crazy record,” he says.

I love the Morgan Spurlock like 5 months of eating from free food to research his theory. Now he is on ten campuses, he will be on countless others soon I bet. There are multiple potential lines of revenue because food always draws and I believe heading into markets with huge populations of young professionals. For example, in DC, the young professional / internship / grad student segment creates a huge ‘happy hour’ business driven by free food. Perhaps one day Food-Bot.com’s website will not only say ‘college is expensive’ but also ‘life is expensive’ or ‘adulthood is expensive’.

BTW, be sure to read the blog entry where Greg lays out his theory behind foot-bot.com and how he went about writing the code to analyze all of the data he was receiving about food and events. Near the end he discusses the awkwardness index — where Foot-Bot.com tries to measure the ‘price’ in awkwardness of free food. Ie a computer science grad student attending a undergraduate ‘french language club’ open house even featuring free escargot and fromage.

Food-Bot.com is going to be a fun new venture to watch.

via For Free Food on Their Campus, Hungry Students Consult ‘Food-Bot’ – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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