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Local App Serving Up Specials

Local App Serving Up Specials

After a year of testing their app, experimenting with different ways to produce income, bringing on coders and going through a business boot camp, tech entrepreneurs Thomas Trahan and Gerald Huffman have rolled out their creation, PLATE, to the public.

PLATE is an app designed to let budget-conscious consumers – so far, mostly college students – look at their phones to know which restaurants and bars are offering the most appealing specials. The app is free and can be downloaded to both iPhone and Android smartphones.

“It’s in real time,” Huffman said, “so it comes up whenever (a special is) active, and it goes away whenever the time’s up.”

Trahan and Huffman, both from the Pineville area, came up with the idea of an app that lists affordable specials when they were college undergrads at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. They were always close to broke and needing to stretch what dollars they had, so they built a rudimentary prototype app that took off.

“We had a lot more people using it than we thought we would,” Huffman said.

The idea blossomed to a business plan, and in 2017 they secured office space at Lafayette’s premier business incubator, the tech-heavy Opportunity Machine. They were one of 10 companies to take part in Accelerate Acadiana, a fast-paced boot camp-style business accelerator that acclimates entrepreneurs to the real world. Marketing, social media strategies, human resources, practice pitches to investors were all part of the program. Accelerate Acadiana was paid for with a federal grant and overseen by a host of experienced business people. Huffman and Trahan were the youngest in the program, with both still enrolled at UL-Lafayette at the time.

Both have since graduated and can devote full working days to PLATE, which continues to use the OM’s offices at the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise across from Cajun Field. The pair said they credit the OM, its people, and their connections with getting PLATE off the ground.

“Through the OM, we’ve been able to take and idea and make it an actual business,” Thomas said.

It was also through the OM that Trahan and Huffman met Chris Meaux, CEO of restaurant delivery app Waitr, an OM graduate company that is headquartered in Lafayette.

At a sit-down, Meaux impressed upon the pair that what they had started was, at its base, a tech company.

“He (Meaux) said, ‘Y’all are trying to build a tech company. You have to have tech on your team,’” Huffman said.

PLATE didn’t have to look far. Trahan and Huffman recruited front-end software developer Trent Guillory, who was already at the OM in office space he secured to try to launch his own firm that is now on the backburner. Kaleb Matherne, another coder, was recruited after Guillory. All four men are now stockholders in PLATE.

Click here to download the PLATE app now!