Local coffee drinkers can now order ahead at some of the area’s smallest independent coffee shops, thanks to an app developed by area men.
Noah Bragg of Kettering and his former roommate Drew Bidlen — both 24 years old and 2017 graduates of Cedarville — began developing their app Mojo early last year. Brag and Bidlen majored in computer science and electrical engineering respectively, but both quit their full time jobs less than two weeks ago to dedicate their working hours to expanding Mojo.
Previously, Bragg worked for Ball Aerospace as a contractor in the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base developing mobile applications.
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“I got some good experience working on mobile applications there and when we starting working on Mojo just a year ago now, we started it kind of as a part-time side project,” Bragg said.
But in the last year there have been more than 2,300 transactions totaling about $18,000 through Mojo. More than 500 people have a Mojo account and an average 60 to 80 people use the app weekly.
Roughly 45 percent of Mojo customers are still ordering at least four months later, and that’s a number Bragg, Bidlen and their intern hope to improve. They also plan to increase order count to 200 per week within the next couple of months and have 50 coffee shops on the platform by the end of the year.
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“We’re starting in Dayton and kind of expanding from here and looking on to Columbus and Cincinnati…We’ll be expanding in probably three months or so,” he said.
The duo launched a test of the app at Bragg’s sister-in-law’s coffee shop in New Hampshire, Bragg said. About three months ago, they opened the app to more shops and eight independent coffee houses now offer orders through Mojo including, Ghostlight Coffee and Wholly Grounds on Wayne Ave. in Dayton, Gem City Cafe and Third Perk Coffee House and Wine Bar on 5th Street, Coffee Hub in Xenia and at its Beavercreek trailer operation, Courthouse Coffee in Xenia and Telemetry Coffee in Cedarville.
National chains like Starbucks, Dunkin and Tim Hortons have apps to get coffee on-demand. Mojo works in the same way, giving customers a chance to order ahead, pay in the app and pickup a drink at the counter without waiting in line. But many independent coffee shops don’t have the resources to build out their own apps, Bragg said.
“I need to compete with places that have that option, so obviously I’m staying up on the latest technology of how people can order. I’m all about local and these guys who went to Cedarville…it’s a win-win situation,” Coffee Hub owner Cymp Stemple said.
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Coffee Hub was in the market for an on-demand app system when Noah’s father mentioned the app to Stemple, she said. About $100 a week is spent at the store through Mojo and she anticipates the Beavercreek store using the app even more when it expands from its current trailer to a storefront.
“My hope is that it serves the people who really want to use it. If you’re all about ordering online and don’t want to stand in line, I hope it serves every one of those people,” Stemple said.
Each coffee shop gives 8 percent of a Mojo transaction to the app, including the usual 3 percent for a credit card fee. Bragg and Bidlen provide the rest of the technology they need to use the app.
“Right now we’re really trying to make the whole experience better for both the coffee shops and their users,” Bragg said.
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