Daniel Tian/Daily Senior Staffer
A student-run food delivery service featuring free delivery, no minimum order count and bulk drop-offs at popular campus locations will launch this month.
The company, Foodrop, works through a free app with a selection of menu items from three or four Evanston restaurants that change on a daily basis, said Kristen Zhou, a Kellogg and McCormick graduate student and Foodrop team leader.
Zhou said Foodrop aims to improve on current web-based food delivery services, such as Grubhub and Postmates, hoping to avoid long wait times and high delivery fees.
Foodrop was created by a team of five Northwestern students as a project for the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s NUvention: Web + Media course, a two-quarter class comprising graduate and undergraduate students that goes through the process of launching a web-based business, said McCormick Prof. Michael Marasco, Farley Center director and the class’ professor.
After students order their food and select a drop-off time and location, Foodrop will aggregate and deliver students’ meals to spots on campus such as the Donald P. Jacobs Center, Technological Institute, Ford Center and The Garage that are far from downtown restaurants and contain a high concentration of people, Zhou said.
Jack Qiu, a team member who focuses on operations and marketing, said limiting the number of menu items available will expedite food delivery.
“We wanted to offer a variety but we also wanted to keep it simple,” the McCormick senior said. “This way, we can give restaurants a lot of the same orders so they can make a lot of food at the same time.”
Zhou said the company intends to partner with at least 10 restaurants and has already performed test runs with Chipotle Mexican Grill, Soulwich and 527 Cafe.
“Most of the restaurants really want to get on board, especially the small local ones that haven’t gotten enough business,” she said. “It’s a great marketing channel for them.”
Zhou also said the model conveniences both students and the company, particularly through its bulk orders feature. Drivers save time going back and forth, and it minimizes long waits for students on campus who eat at similar times and locations, she said.
Qiu said the other unique features of Foodrop, such as food variety and no delivery fees or order minimums, make the service particularly useful for busy college students.
“People are going to know that their food will arrive at a certain time, and for a structured day, that’s what students need,” he said.
Marasco said despite initial concerns about the competitiveness of the food delivery market, the students showed admirable persistence.
“The team was really passionate about the space and felt that they were filling an unmet need,” he said. “They have a new perspective on it and a unique business model, and I think there’s space in the market for something like it.”
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