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Law student's phone app takes out competition

What do you do when you want to compliment a business on its great service? If you’re University of Canterbury student Hannah Duder, you create an award-winning smartphone app.

Duder, a fourth-year Law and Accounting student, has taken out first prize in the University of Canterbury’s annual Entré Apps Challenge, a competition aimed at producing mobile applications.

By beating more than 300 other entries, she won herself an iPhone, an iPad and the opportunity to turn her idea into reality with an app-development company.

“I did not expect to win at all,” she said.

Her app, called The Suggestion Box, would replace the traditional suggestion box and allow people to give feedback to a range of businesses. Users could rate their experience at certain places and in 140 characters create a comment or add a photo. The content would then be sent to Duder, who would collate and moderate it before it was sent to the business.

While it was free for the user, businesses would pay Duder for the suggestions.

“It’s easy to make the suggestion. You don’t have to write it down or be confrontational. I think that’s something really important because they could be sitting there on their phone and not have to go to a box where people see them writing something.”

Duder’s idea came to her after an “amazing” waitress served her at The Pedal Pusher on Lincoln Road. She wanted to compliment the manager on the great service, but the self-proclaimed tech-savvy student found it difficult to contact them through the pub’s website.

“I thought it could have been so much easier if I could have done this instantaneously when I was at the business.”

She said that while she was the type of person to say something when service or food ever went wrong; it was not always easy for others.

“I think there are a lot of people out there that do not say anything, especially New Zealanders. We just get angry and walk away and never go back to that place. Whereas we should really give feedback and say ‘well it was a really bad experience and we won’t come back here’.”

Duder worked alongside the team at Smudge Apps for two days, and they developed her idea into a fully functioning app. The app will be released next week, once Apple gives it the go-ahead.

“My idea went from this idea that I had to, ‘Oh my gosh, this could actually make me money and be an app’. So I got pretty excited.”

The University of Canterbury Students’ Association is allowing Duder to launch the app on campus, where she will try to get students using the app and making suggestions on campus cafes, the bookstore, library and even lecturers.

Smudge app co-founder and competition judge Reuben Bijl said Duder’s idea did well because it was a stand-alone idea.

“A lot of the other apps were something a bank could do better or something that a gym could do better, which isn’t the business idea of an app itself. Whereas Hannah’s was a good idea that people could understand and get but it was also an app on its own.”

Bijl said that launching the app at university was a positive move.

“If you could get a couple of hundred people that actually really loved it within uni and used it relatively frequently then it could grow from there.”

_Emily Spink