Two UT students launch website that tracks store inventories
by Tristan Balagtas
Wednesday, March 25th 2020
Originally Posted on CBS Austin.
"We both saw our parents really struggled to find certain groceries, and when we saw the news, we saw this issue was a lot more widespread," said 19-year-old Rithwik Pattikonda.
Pattikonda and 18-year-old Darshan Bhatta are two University of Texas computer science students. They're also the masterminds behind Instok.org -- or as they call it -- the "Expedia" for grocery shopping. As they realized store shelves were looking scarce, and shoppers were venturing to store after store searching for things like toilet paper, the pair spent their time off from school not at the beach, but in front of their computers.
"We thought about how we could solve this problem and Instok was pretty much the best solution we thought of," said Bhatta, "and we spent a week of our spring break just making the site, and here we are."
At Instok.org, users simply type in the item they're looking for and their zip code. The site then searches the inventory of nearby stores like Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and Target.
"A lot of people were going to five or six different stores to find a specific item, and in these days when we're trying to promote social distancing, going to all these different stores and struggling to find an item is really not good for society," said Pattikonda.
Over a two -day period, Pattikonda and Bhatta say they've had over 17,000 visitors at their website, and their hope is for it to be useful beyond this unprecedented time.
"Even after the coronavirus is over, we hope that we can help people in high demand times like Black Friday, Christmas, and different times of the year when things are getting out of stock, really fast," said Pattikonda.
Pattikonda and Bhatta say they don't make any money off their website, but there is a button where you can buy them coffee or donate toward their server fees.