By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A former University of Minnesota student has developed an app which is helping protect people from COVID-19 exposure.

Two years ago, Bharat Pulgam cofounded an app with friends Josh Chang and Sam Lerdahl which helps minimize trips to the store.

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One day, his friend asked if he could pick up something from Chipotle. He agreed, but later, four other friends asked him why he hadn’t told them he was going; they would have asked for something.

So then, Pulgam started wondering: “What if there’s a way that we could take all the people who are going to stores and restaurants and local business and pair them with people who needed something at a given point in time?”

He started developing the Pikup app, which alerts students if someone is going to the store so they can pick up something for them, too.

It was so successful on college campuses, they dropped out of school and started developing the app full time. Then, COVID-19 hit.

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Now, the Pikup app has been selected by 35 Twin Cities neighborhoods to minimize trips to the store and exposure.

Anushu Shuri, who lives in Maple Grove with his family, used the app last week after getting an alert a neighbor was heading to Whole Foods.

“I think the timing was really good,” said Shuri. “Less people on the road or in the store, so we can protect each other.”

His delivery came right to his door, so he and his family could stay put.

Pikup is free to download and use. You can find it here.

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If you want to verify your neighborhood on Pikup, click here. If anyone has ideas on how Pikup can help your community, email

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield