As most of us are first year university students living on campus, we quickly realized how financially difficult it can be to attend university.

  • The average student debtor owes ~$26,000 after graduation. The base price of even attending universities can take years to repay.
  • The average annual cost of all expenses is $20,000 for Canadian university students. Even students still living at home see many expenses rise in terms of textbooks, resources, and just living necessities in general.
  • This provides a secondary source of income without the need to do a traditional part time job. This would fit in with each student's busy schedule and allow much more flexibility. Students can earn money in an easier way.
  • Provides a singular platform for all University of Waterloo students to promote their small businesses.
  • We also noticed a unique issue in our time settling down at Waterloo. All of the students have non-monetized assets around them. For example, we may have special talents, rarely used wardrobe items such as suits we only wear to interviews, and more. Any student can find ways to earn money by renting out such items or providing services to other students.
  • Public message boards can be dangerous both in the era of COVID and strangers in general

What it does

WatMap is a localized, virtual marketplace only for University of Waterloo students, who can post services that they offer for other students. For example, one student can offer tutoring services, and WatMap allows other students to find and utilize those services. Other examples can include renting out suits, selling art, teaching/tutoring, and more. This allows students to earn a side income without having to work a part time job.

How we built it

We used Javascript, including React, Bootstrap and JSX for the frontend, and connected with the Firebase API. For storing the user data we used Firebase Firestore, used Firebase Auth for authentication, and stored images on firebase storage. For our map, we used Google Maps API.

Challenges we ran into

We ran into many challenges when trying to polish our map and get it to look just right for our use case. For example, we needed to remove unnecessary locations from the map, and create custom pins to go onto the map. The Google Maps API had public node modules for use, however, they were not documented very well and it took quite a while to figure out how to set up the constraints we desired. We ended up guessing and checking for that.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

One accomplishment that we are proud of is how we planned, designed, built and deployed a fully functional service in such a short time frame!

What we learned

We learned a great deal about how to efficiently work together in such a limited time constraint, especially with the challenges of COVID and remote work. We also learned to only use API calls which are well documented, since guessing and checking can not be done efficiently.

What's next for WatMap

  1. By the end of 2021, we plan to have a working prototype which could be tested by a subset of the students at University of Waterloo.
  2. By the end of Q2 2022, the app can be deployed to AppStore and PlayStore and the Internet for student usage. (10 seconds)
  3. As the fiscal year of 2022 ends, we hope we can start scaling up by expanding to other universities. All of these university maps can be privately restricted to students through use of university emails. (10 seconds)

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