Angela Sy ‘16 will launch a new website on Oct. 18 called Stanford Nomz where students can share, rate and review their favorite local restaurants.
The site originated as Sy’s final project for the spring freshman Introductory Seminar CS73N: The Business of the Internet, which, according to Shirley Tessler M.S. ’96—co-instructor of the course and co-principal of Aldo Ventures, Inc. with Avron Barr M.S. ;81—attracts an average of 100 applications each year for about 16 spots.
Students in the seminar are required to build a substantial website as a final project applying the lessons they learn about writing for the web.
Sy said that the class’s combined focus on technology and entrepreneurship spoke to her interests and granted access to mentorship from instructors like Tessler and Gio Wiederhold, emeritus professor of computer science, medicine and electrical engineering who worked as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the originator of the Internet.
“The instructors asked each of us to come up with a business plan for our site,” Sy said. “We looked a lot at user interaction—for example, how the interface works and how does that appeal to the audience.”
Sy’s inspiration for Stanford Nomz came from a practical problem she faced as a freshman. With limited access to transportation and knowledge of the area—not to mention a passion for food—Sy wanted to create one resource where students could share information about top restaurants to dine in.
“The whole idea behind Stanford Nomz is that it’s not like a food blog where there’s only one voice speaking to a bunch of people,” Sy said. “It’s really about having a multitude of voices—your peers and your friends at Stanford, who share their love for food and who share their best experiences at these restaurants.”
Sy continued to work on the site into the summer, adding information on popular restaurants based on responses she received from a survey she sent out to Stanford peers.
One of the popular places among the survey responses was the Oren’s Hummus Shop. Interested in what made the restaurant stand out to students, Sy visited the restaurant and interviewed the executive chef, filming behind-the-scenes shots for the site.
Tessler commended Sy’s attention to user interactivity on the site with the inclusion of features such as colorful descriptions of various cuisines and videos like the one for Oren’s.
“I think she put together all the right elements,” Tessler said. “It can really function as a valuable resource. It’s not like a little toy website, it’s really quite substantial and interesting and useful”
Tessler, who has taught the freshman seminar for about seven years, added that past final projects have varied in purpose, including nonprofit-oriented sites to help a certain charity or group and commercially-based sites to sell a product.
Looking ahead, Sy wants to add more restaurant listings on the website and allow students to be able to upload their own content for their favorite spots.
Alexa Liautaud contributed to this report.
Contact Ileana Najarro at inajarro ‘at’ stanford.edu.