Inspiration

37% of college students including several of our classmates don't know where their next meal is coming from. When students have to worry about their meals, the focus on classes drops and grades plummet. We wanted to build a crowdfunding tool to help students pay for their meals to support themselves through college.

What it does

The app provides two different interfaces for different parties involved:

  1. Donors: They can choose to donate meals for a student from their alma mater or to a random college across america. The all the money is collected by USustain(us) where its algorithmically dispersed to a student in need.
  2. Students: The students will be able to view number of meals they have available and they can choose to find restaurants around their school to redeem the meals. They can choose to order from online food delivery services to deliver the materials to prepare the meals to save time.
  3. PayPal/Venmo: The company will be able to track hotspots where most students are buying their meals so that the company can form better vendor relationships in those areas. The company will also be able to boost the spendings on their PayPal and Venmo mastercards at restaurants.

How we built it

We built the app to be modern and functional using a ReactJs with Material UI to follow the current design standards. To enable donations we enabled Braintree API with Spring Boot backend and React to allow for drop in UI components. We used a PostgreSQL database to keep track of all the donors and the benefiting students and their meals.

Challenges we ran into

1.Not all the team members were familiar with the technologies being used and a major part of the hackathon was spent getting people up to date on the technologies and the problem at hand. 2.Solving pesky design bugs and configuration issues to get all the components interacting properly was a tough challenge that occasionally bested us.

Accomplishments that we are proud of

  1. One of the biggest difficulties we had when designing the problem was addressing key problems and motivations of different parties using the application. Coming up with a solution that could potentially benefit all the parties involved, improved our morale about working on the project.
  2. Members who had no prior experience working on Enterprise Spring Java applications and frontend React-Native were able to learn and adapt fast enough to contribute to the project.
  3. Getting all the frontend and the backend tied up successfully along getting Braintree and PayPal APIs to successfully process the payments was a wonderful feeling.

What we learned

  1. PayPal's company culture and types of products being worked on!
  2. How to budget time for shorter hackathons with more focus!
  3. How to successfully dabble in frontend and backend technologies without prior experience.

What's next for USustain

We truly believe there is a product market fit for USustain in America. Based on the research performed and businesses analysed, the business model has been thoroughly vetted to benefit all the parties involved. Some of the future technical improvements include:

  1. Ways to calculate meal value based on current location of the person
  2. Creating a more empowering donor page where donors would want to donate their money
  3. Ways to provide students with more options for meals instead of just local restaurants or online delivery
  4. Build a analytics platform to observe students life and important life changes and incorporate need more deeply.
  5. Ability to market the financial data for external companies to help the market research and merchant relationships
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