Alumna’s app shows real-time snack options

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Kelsey Renz.

If you live on campus, you probably have the late-night food options down pat. There are the 24-hour options like CVS and 7-11, and you’ve probably rushed a few times to get to Whole Foods before 10 p.m.

But one alumna knows not everyone’s late-night schedule is quite as smooth.

What’s Open Nearby? is a free app that lists which convenience stores, coffee shops, bakeries and grocery stores are open in your area, launched recently by Class of 2011 alumna Michele Hansen and her husband, Mathias.

Her husband originally created the app for his personal use because “he was tired of showing up to a grocery store at 10 o’clock at night and finding out that it was closed,” Michele said.

Photo courtesy of Michele Hansen
Photo courtesy of Michele Hansen

The couple released the app in Denmark last year and was downloaded more than 100,000 times – about 6 percent of the country’s population, the alumna said.

The app was redesigned this summer in response the IOS 7 update, and features time zone support, two languages and a “suggest a new store” option.

It also uses a custom program to sync store hours each week, ensuring that the information is up to date. After receiving local store suggestions, the Hansens also confirm local store hours manually.

“On Thanksgiving, for example, Trader Joe’s nationally was closed. But a lot of those bigger services didn’t pick up on that because they don’t really have boots on the ground monitoring this day in and day out,” she said.

The Elliot School alum who studied international economics first became interested in technology after co-founding an online magazine known as “The Politicizer,” with fellow Colonials in 2009.

She and her husband are now working on two other projects through their company Dotsquare LLC, like an app that tracks information about their young daughter’s routine.

What’s Open Nearby? is only available for iPhone but can be used on iPads as well. Android and Windows Phone 7 versions are expected to launch next year.

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