Moocho, an app-based rewards program, plans expansion at Syracuse University this fall

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A team of Syracuse University students will help bring the app to campus.

Moocho, a rewards program for purchases, will join the list of apps offering payment services to Syracuse University students this September, company representatives said.

Moocho — which gives students an all-purpose payment option and rewards program — will launch on campus in the coming weeks, said Peter Roth, the company’s director of operations.

The app uses a list of nationwide vendors, which it partners with to run its rewards program. Moocho’s list of vendors include some names SU students might recognize such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Jimmy John’s.

By purchasing $5 in product from any of the company’s recognized partners, students can earn a “Mooch,” which is equivalent to a rewards point. After enough Mooches are earned, they can be exchanged for free merchandise, such as an iPad or a bicycle.

Vendors also will offer discounts through the app. Moocho CEO Matt Levenson said the draw of Moocho is that “(the app) rewards students for purchases they were already going to make.”

Levenson said earning rewards through Moocho is much faster and easier than going through an alternative app. The company is in negotiations with Wegmans to add the grocery store chain to its list of partners.

Although the security of credit cards and electronic transfers has been compromised in recent years — notably with Chipotle’s large-scale data breach in May — Levenson said he is confident that students have no reason to worry.

Moocho outsources users’ credit or debit card information to Visa’s cloud service, meaning that the app does not store credit or debit information, he said. Additionally, security is insured by what Levenson calls the Moocho Guarantee.

“Every transaction is guaranteed to be authorized and accurate, or we refund the full amount,” Levenson said.

Moocho first became involved with SU through the athletics department. Levenson said SU basketball coach Jim Boeheim sits on the company’s advisory board.

Boeheim was convinced that Moocho was a solution to a problem facing SU’s Athletics Department — there was no easy way to distribute meal and snack funds to the athletes, Roth said.


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Moocho has already started implementing its meal plan for SU student athletes. From there, the company plans to expand its services to the rest of the SU community, including students and staff.

Roth said the service would continue to expand its prizes and discount options, with items such as GoPro cameras and camping gear becoming available as the app expands.

Going through the university’s athletics department is not a new route for Moocho. The app is already running at 13 college campuses, including The Ohio State University and Purdue University.

At Purdue, the app launched a similar initiative for student athletes, adding meal plans at the beginning of the fall sports season. In the Purdue’s report to the Board of Trustees, the plan — which the university had invested $280,000 in — was described as “a huge hit with student athletes.”

Although the app is still gathering partners, Roth said he is optimistic about its chances for success.

“It’s our job to get the correct merchants on board,” he said. “But we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from local merchants who like the program. When we launch, we should have a merchant base that’s appealing to students from all walks of life.”

Moocho’s SU campus manager, Scott Bingle, has built a team of students to help bring Moocho’s brand to Syracuse.

“Moocho has incredibly strong leadership,” said Bingle, who is a junior in both the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. “And where there’s strong leadership, there’s strong companies, and I think that’s something I want to be a part of.”

As campus manager, Bingle was tasked with building a team of campus ambassadors to help Moocho hit the ground running. He said the company is still in the hiring process.

“We have an edge over individual apps like Starbucks and Chipotle in that we can cross-reward users,” Bingle said. “If I wanted a free burrito I’d have to go to Chipotle over and over again, and it’s not efficient.”

The company, though, is still trying to get local vendors on board in Syracuse, Bingle said.

“We also want to make sure that the vendors have their technology ready to go when we’re ready, so that customers get the optimum experience,” Bingle said. “But once this launches, I think it’ll be huge for students.”


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