HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Glen Allen college student attending Clemson University has spent the past five weeks doing his part to help small businesses hit hard by COVID-19.
Sudarshan Sridharan spent days sheltering in place in South Carolina when a trip downtown, seeing how eerily quiet the normally bustling district was, prompted him to take action.
Sridharan joined forces with a few other students, and in less that three days their website SaveMAPS -- or Save Mom and Pop Shops -- was born.
"We aggregate restaurants that sell gift cards online and provide the payment processing infrastructure to allow restaurants that don't have the ability to issue gift cards digitally," Sridharan explained.
Demand quickly skyrocketed and Sridharan grew his team of volunteers from three to 27 in just one weekend.
Sridharan did not forget his hometown of RVA when he expanded his reach.
"And we started with just restaurants and bars and now we have expanded to everything from yoga studios to ice cream shops," Sridharan said. "We started in Clemson, South Carolina. After five weeks, we are in 18 states, 48 cities featuring 650 businesses."
Demand for the service is steadily increasing.
"Local city leaders, chambers of commerce, mayors and state representatives, they'll come to us," Sridharan said. "And once they do that, we prioritize their city and try to get them on as fast as possible."
Now Sridharan is hoping more customers will turn to their platform to buy gift cards to help keep their favorite business afloat.
"All you have to do is go to saveMAPS.io, click on your state, in this case, VA and you search for the restaurant or business or search by city," Sridharan said.
Businesses can sign up to get their company featured for free byclicking on register a business and by fill out the form on their website.
Sridharan said someone will get back to you in 12-24 hours.
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