On February 23, consumers will be able to download an app called Nectr that will give them access to discounts and promotions from businesses they want to deal with. Nectr, founded by Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) alums Lucas Evans and Kurtarth Patel, is a new way for businesses and consumers to engage.

“With the Nectr app, consumers can stay connected to their favorite local businesses by following them as they do on Twitter. These businesses can then cut through the noise and directly engage customers who want to hear from them. What we do is empower consumers to follow and hear from only the businesses they truly care about,” says Evans.

Nectr also wants to provide businesses a targeted avenue to build loyalty with their customers. Customers opt in to receive mobile notifications so “businesses can build a list of their best customers,” explains Evans. “They can be sure that messages are received by a warm, welcoming audience.”

The pair’s first endeavor at IUP was a coupon application to help businesses that market to college students. Upon graduating in 2012, they won a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education business plan competition that allowed them to elaborate on their concept and that marked the beginning of Nectr.

Nectr was incubated in Thrill Mill’s class of 2014. This year, Nectr is the incubator’s Startup In Residence, providing mentoring services to the current class.

According to Evans, as the app evolves, users will be able to receive highly targeted notifications with location-based services so that businesses can engage with customers in their immediate vicinity.

To date, over 20 local businesses have signed up to be part of the Nectr network. The app’s launch on February 23 will commence what the company calls the “7 Days of Nectr” event where nine of the businesses will give away free products to app users. Participating local businesses include Dave and Andy’s in Oakland, Shady Grove in Shadyside, Social in Bakery Square and The William Penn Tavern in Squirrel Hill.

Leah Lizarondo is a food advocate, writer and speaker. She is also the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, an organization that seeks to eliminate food waste to make an impact on hunger and the environment. She is the Chief Veghacker, recipe creator and curator at The Brazen Kitchen, where she writes about food and food policy. She writes about the intersection of food, health, innovation and policy.