Since the start of the Pandemic, local teens and young people have been leading the way on innovative ways to help. Seattle Refined has shared many of their stories, including the Redmond student donating the proceeds of his pet leash business for COVID-19 relief, and the sisters in Snohomish, sewing and donating fabric face masks to front line workers.
Eastside teen Sophie Sanjani is another young woman really making a difference for local restaurants and patrons. She created a website featuring eateries with deals and or discounts, all in the hopes of encouraging people to eat there. It began with Bellevue, but has expanded all over the country. Refined caught up with Sophie Sanjani to get the scoop.
Seattle Refined: So Sophie - you are 15 years old, you’re gonna be a sophomore in high school - and during COVID you were motivated to start a website that’s really making a difference for people!
Sophie Sajnani: Yeah! So Bellevue Bites is a website I coded and started in March, and it provides a list of local restaurants providing discounts for call-in orders so people can still afford to support their local spots. Unlike Uber Eats and other food platforms that charge restaurants a service fee, it’s a completely free and promotional platform for these restaurants just something to help them out during these hard times.
So how did you get this idea?
When Governor Inslee was closing down all the local restaurants and they were turning to takeout or delivery. And I was like 'What can I do to help?' So I had taken computer science classes before in school. So with all this free time, I thought what if I made a website. So I started with that and cold-calling restaurants actually asking for discounts and it kind of grew from there.
So how many restaurants are you working with currently in Bellevue?
So in Bellevue - I would say it depends because the website is updated frequently but I would say 10-20, It honestly varies because it’s just rotating each month.
So we’re talking about Bellevue Bites but it’s not just in Bellevue! You’ve done this other places too.
So right now, currently we are in five cities. We’re in Bellevue, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and New York City.
You’re actually doing a service for the restaurants and the patrons. What has been the reaction so far?
Everyone is super kind, it’s a very positive community.
So you’re a high school student and you started this website but this is not your first entrepreneurial adventure.
Yeah so I started Taschen Bags also in middle school. So it is a form of bag that can go from messenger bag to handbag to backpack. I actually have it right here so it comes in this lavender color. And it actually started because when I was in middle school I had a really small locker. So I couldn’t fit my big bag in there so I was like how can I have a bag that could expand, be more compatible created for the ‘girl on the go.’
How did you come up with the name?
So the name Taschen is actually German for “art in bags” so I’m half-German, half-Indian so it was kind of a touch to my heritage.
So far you’ve started a bag company and you’ve built many websites to help people out during COVID. What’s next for you?
Right now I think I want to continue with Bellevue Bites and growing.
Sophie thanks so much for joining us today, I think the sky is the limit for you and I can’t wait to see what you do next!