E&E student develops app that saves money while having a blast

[Article by Amber Viviers]

A student from the Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU), together with a fellow SU student, has developed an app to help save students money when dining out.

Arnold Hattingh, a first-year student in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Jené Venter, who is studying a BCom degree in International Business, came up with the idea for DJOL while having dinner and realising the restaurant had several specials they were unaware of.

DJOL is derived from the Afrikaans slang word “jol“, which means “to have a good time”. The app, which is free to download, will help students discover restaurants that have special on their food, beverages and deals of the day. “Student life can be an epic adventure, but budgets are tight. So hopefully, DJOL can help students afford wine and eat more pizza,” says Arnold.

The app has grown fast and has over 100 specials and lists more than 30 restaurants. Currently, it is only available to SU students, but the pair has big plans to expand the app to universities across the country.

They both went to DF Malan High School in Bellville, where Jené was head girl and Arnold vice-head boy. He says he and Jené makes a fantastic team. “We both surprisingly contribute a great deal of economic knowledge to our business endeavours. It was our favourite subject at school. Jené is really good at working with people and practically seeing what needs to be done while I try to think very long term.”

Arnold says his interest in programming comes (surprisingly) from his love for piano and writing music. “I like creating stuff using my creativity, and programming is no different. I also love business and economics. So programming is more just a means to an end for starting a business. It is not the most glamorous thing in the world, and I don’t want to work as a programmer one day!”

He says he decided to enrol for a degree in engineering because he enjoys solving problems. “I want to start a major tech company one day, hence electronic engineering. I also love the type of people that study engineering. They are change-makers, thinkers, and to be honest, really nice and open people (contrary to the stereotype!). I just always wanted to be around fellow creative people.”

Arnold says he believes a BEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering will help him develop more apps in the future. “Just the way of thinking about the world that engineering teaches you is one I can’t wait to subscribe to. I hope to meet my future business partners at the faculty,” he adds with a wink.

He admits to having skipped a few classes (“don’t tell my lecturers!”) to make time to develop DJOL. “I also worked late most nights and through some hard work, I managed to finish the app in six months while luckily not failing a subject,” he says.

On his future plans, he says he also wants to implement many other business ideas that have been brewing in his head. “I also want to complete a master’s degree overseas – possible in Germany or the USA. Jené might meet me there if she decides to stay after her exchange semester. I can’t wait for what is to come.”

Photograph: (left) Jené Venter and Arnold Hattingh. (right) A representation of what the app looks like.