Best back-to-school freebie? Cal Smart Wallet

Campus and community discounts are at your fingertips with Cal Smart Wallet. (Photo courtesy of Berkeley Rec Sports)

Campus and community discounts are at your fingertips with Cal Smart Wallet. (Photo courtesy of Berkeley Rec Sports)

Berkeley Rec Sports is giving away an innovative “wallet” as a back-to-school gift, not only to students but to anyone with an @berkeley.edu email address. And it’s stuffed with high-value offers and savings from select campus and community brands for items including groceries, burgers, car-sharing services and tickets to campus films and cultural events, football games and more.

Cal Smart Wallet is a virtual marketplace being launched as a pilot project by Berkeley Rec Sports, in partnership with the mobile platform Ziploop. It was created as an alternative or supplement to Caltopia, a free annual festival for students held at the start of fall semester by Rec Sports. At this year’s event — going on through today (Monday, Aug. 22) — hundreds of local and national sponsors and exhibitors are displaying and often handing out samples of their latest products and services in booths outside the Rec Sports Facility.

“The beauty of Caltopia is face-to-face interaction, but some brands, due to budgetary and other reasons, can’t come to Caltopia, yet still want to engage with students,” says Joe Watz, director of marketing and business development for Berkeley Rec Sports and director of campus relations for the University Partnership Program (UPP). “So we put our energies together to create a Ziploop marketplace for the campus with products and companies that align with UC Berkeley’s values of corporate and social responsibility, sustainability and high value.”

Many of the wallet’s offers have expiration dates and will be replaced every 60 to 90 days by new discounts. Throughout the year, new brands will be added, “but we’re trying to keep the number small and to not provide 100 different promotional codes, like a coupon book,” says Robbie McInerny, a senior and U.S. history major who is interning at Berkeley Rec Sports.

Cal Smart Wallet discounts include reduced prices for football games. (Photo courtesy of Berkeley Rec Sports)

Cal Smart Wallet discounts include reduced prices for football games. (Photo courtesy of Berkeley Rec Sports)

McInerny adds that Cal Smart Wallet “helps to bridge a gap and develop a relationship between our brand and the millennial group.”

Currently, Cal Smart Wallet includes:

  • 20 percent off at ASUC Student Union eateries
  • $10 off a $30 purchase at Andronico’s
  • A $5 student pass to Department of Music concerts
  • A $40 Cal Performances student flex pass
  • $20 off a Berkeley Rec Sports massage
  • $20 off a 2016 Cal football student pass
  • 40 percent off Under Armour athletic wear

Ziploop was co-founded by Peter Jackson, an expert in the mobile retail space who graduated from Berkeley in 1984. He partnered with Watz and McInerny to develop Cal Smart Wallet, which Watz says is also a solution to “what we could do to give blockbuster offers to students facing the high cost of tuition, living and books, to give them a centralized, seamless place to shop and to remove obstacles to redeeming their offers.”

In addition, says Watz, Cal Smart Wallet’s offers are an environmentally smart solution to the “tens of thousands of giveaway paper coupons and plastic gift cards” you encounter at events like Caltopia.

Jackson, Ziploop’s CEO, says he applauds Berkeley for “taking the challenge of bringing its entire community together to develop a single platform for the benefit of all. The project took over a year and included the input of the majority of groups across the school. Cal has always been a great innovator of ideas, and to be part of this effort with my alma mater could not make me more proud.”

He adds that universities nationwide are beginning to contact Ziploop, asking how they can adopt the invention.

Berkeley’s Arts + Design Initiative is one of Cal Smart Wallet’s partners, with many student discounts being offered by Cal Performances, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Department of Music and the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.

Affordable encounters with the arts are among the special offers in Cal Smart Wallet. (Photo by Rosalie O’Connor)

Affordable encounters with the arts are among the special offers in Cal Smart Wallet. (Photo by Rosalie O’Connor)

“One of the first goals of the A+D Initiative was to create a streamlined system for engaging our large student population in affordable encounters with the arts. By working with Rec Sports and Ziploop, we have already been able to pilot this concept,” says Associate Vice Chancellor for Arts + Design Shannon Jackson.

Many students don’t realize, adds Jackson, that they can enjoy free, year-long admission to campus galleries and museums, including the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, CITRIS Tech Museum, UC Botanical Garden and the galleries of BAMPFA.

“Our ultimate hope,” she says, “is to create a Berkeley Arts Pass that not only subsidizes student admissions and tickets to UC Berkeley arts events, but also allows students to access and share information on one platform about many on-campus and off-campus cultural events.”

Watz says mobile engagement is no longer “a temporary journey for students, or a place to play games. It’s no longer just a social outlet. Our student population is in the mobile space to live, work, play, explore and to spend a great deal of time connecting not just to each other, but to the global economy.”

“We’re in a soft launch for Cal Smart Wallet,” he adds, “so let’s pilot this a year, and from the data, use it to make intelligent business decisions that can only make this idea better.”

The Cal Smart Wallet and its pre-loaded offers can be accessed by downloading Ziploop through the Apple App Store or Google Play and signing up with a @berkeley.edu email address. The offers also can be accessed via the Ziploop website.