UT students break into food industry with new, innovative app FrenchFry

Morgan-Taylor Thomas

If they weren’t eating at Chick-fil-A, Zaheer Pirani and his three roommates inevitably started their daily quarrel about where to eat. Tired of arguing with his friends, Pirani chose to solve the problem.

“At that moment in my life, I was looking for something new to take on,” management junior Pirani said. “I was single and actually had Bumble and Tinder on my phone, so I was swiping through one day and thought, ‘They have a swipe method to decide yes or no (if) you like a person, why don’t they have that for food?’”

For the past year, Pirani, 12 UT students and students from other colleges have been working on a food service app called FrenchFry. The app, which officially launched March 6 and is just shy of 25,000 downloads, has given them not only a resume boost but also an innovative, tight-knit community that allows for creative brainstorming.

Amaan Dosani, FrenchFry’s head of marketing, said it’s important to him that the student ambassadors, also known as FrenchFryers, feel like they have a voice in the project. Without them, he knows FrenchFry would not be able to reach the maximum number of people.

“Rather than setting a lot of expectations, I have given them (places to be) creative because to me, there’s no limit on creativity,” management junior Dosani said. “They don’t live in a box, (and) I don’t live in a box.”

With a love for apps beginning with his first iPad in 2011, Andy Anzaldua, a UT FrenchFryer, said he was enthusiastic about joining his first startup.

“Everything you do on your phone is centered around apps,” nutrition sophomore Anzaldua said. “IPhones make it so easy to use and put out apps, so I’m always using them. That’s when I started recognizing the good and bad qualities of an app.”

Dosani said he has also been able to achieve personal relationships with all of his FrenchFryers, no matter where they’re located in the state.

“They’re comfortable having this open space to give us what are good things or bad things (about the app),” Dosani said.

Through his technical research, Anzaldua said he has even helped make some serious changes for user efficiency, such as the swiping range.

“When a user holds their phone, the bottom third of the phone is actually where their reach is,” Anzaldua said. “So I was conveying to (the team) that the swipe range was a little too high and if we moved it down, it would allow the user to not only use it with one hand but also be able to swipe up, left and right from just that range.”

As for Pirani, he said he hopes to see FrenchFry become a household name and even begin partnering with sponsors. He said FrenchFry has been his saving grace during the pandemic.

“All the knowledge I accumulated from doing this project is so valuable to me,” Pirani said. “(As far as) mental health, (FrenchFry) has done me very good because I can set goals, and it’s nice to reach them on a consistent basis.”

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the March 30 issue of The Daily Texan