A team of Tandon alumni tackle the COVID-19 crisis
When first-year students meet, it’s natural for them to form small groups; there’s a lot to be said for having people to eat, study, and hang out with when so much around you is unfamiliar and new. When computer science majors Sanford Moskowitz, Jin Peng Lin, Sreekar Bonam, and Yi Zhang met, they took it a step further and decided to develop software products together — for fun. The team is now working together on Allpass — a new startup with the far-reaching mission to enable the country to return to work and end the spread of COVID-19.
The seed for their first student product had been planted when Moskowitz inadvertently purchased an unusable phone from a Craigslist scammer. Wanting to combat that type of illicit activity, the four developed a secure local marketplace that allowed users on both sides of a transaction to verify its trustworthiness, arrange payment and pickup, and maintain privacy. LegitHub, as it was called, ended up being chosen as one of the top 10 student startups by Microsoft’s Imagine Fund, an accelerator program aimed at encouraging young entrepreneurs.
After graduating in 2014, the group stayed in touch and continued to collaborate, often on projects with direct societal impact. When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, for example, they pitched in to help build a contact tracing app for use in Haiti; developed the official COVID app for the 2020 Democratic National Convention (which informed attendees about safety protocols and procedures); and answered a call put out by the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, who was seeking a way to let the public know which businesses were safest to patronize — a sort of Yelp for the pandemic age.
Their latest effort, Allpass, is an app that allows businesses to seamlessly conduct daily health screenings, workplace contact tracing, and touchless temperature checks.
“Many businesses have been relying on pen-and-paper for health screening, which presents not only administrative headaches but health risks, as patrons and employees often share the same pen,” they explain. “And stationing someone at the door to check temperatures can put both that employee and the other parties in unsafe physical proximity.”
Allpass automates the entire process. An employee or visitor simply opens the app, fills out a health questionnaire, has their temperature taken via a rapid thermal screener (from partner company NoahFace), and gets a pass to show at the entrance.
The team partnered with Boston digital product studio Upstatement to bring Allpass to market as fast as possible. The app is now being used by companies across the country, from small startups to iconic brands. “Our aim is to help reopen our economy and enable millions of Americans to return to work safely, while concurrently stopping the spread of the virus,” the founders say. “It shouldn’t be an either-or situation.”
Their decision to join in the fight against COVID is personal, they explain. “The virus has reshaped New York since we attended NYU Tandon," said Moskowitz, who serves as the company’s CEO. "We hope Allpass will help the city we love rebuild and return to better days."