Created by college students for college students, the online ordering platform EatStreet is making waves in the world of entrepreneurship.
EatStreet’s three co-founders — all University of Wisconsin graduates — Matt Howard, Eric Martell and Alex Wyler are finalists for this year’s 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year in the Midwest Award.
Unlike other ordering and delivery services such as Grub Hub and Mr. Delivery that typically target large cities, EatStreet has a different target demographic, Matt Howard, a co-founder and CEO of EatStreet, said.
Their primary focus is providing food services to college towns, and EatStreet depends on the large student bodies and young demographic that come along with that, Howard said. The company’s small size has allowed them to innovate and keep up with the fast-paced young demographic, Alex Wyler, co-founder and CTO of EatStreet, said in an email.
“Our size and startup atmosphere allow us to focus on what’s important — building an awesome service for our restaurants and users,” Wyler said.
After wishing more restaurants had online delivery services, the trio decided to start a dialogue with local restaurants, Howard said. The three founded the original EatStreet their junior year at UW, originally calling it BadgerBites.
Built on the premise that many students dislike ordering over the phone, EatStreet brought together local restaurants and created an easy platform online that specifically catered to UW students. EatStreet benefits both the customers and the businesses; it increases the number of delivery orders for the business and makes favorite restaurants more accessible for customers, Eric Martell, co-founder and CIO, said in an email.
Since the three co-founders graduated in May 2011, the company has continued to expand to include 15,000 restaurants throughout 150 cities across the country, Howard said.
“Once we got to about five or six cities we thought, OK, we’re really on to something,” Howard said.
A $10 million investment that closed last year will allow EatStreet to continue the aggressive strategy of expansion that the company has been pursuing over the last several years. This investment allowed the company to hire new positions, helping them reach their current total of roughly 100 employees, Howard said.
This investment also allowed them to launch their newest feature, a rewards program, which the founders consider to be the real factor that sets them apart from other delivery platforms.
This rewards program provides users with points, meal coupons and free items once a certain price has been reached, depending on the restaurant. Every six orders made through EatStreet, the user receives a coupon for the seventh order. This feature was created because most college students are on a budget, Howard said.
“It was really more of a hobby than anything else,” Howard said, “We didn’t plan on it taking off as much as it did.”
There are 31 finalists for this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 in the Midwest Award.
With so many large successful companies in the running, the creators of EatStreet are both humbled and honored to be included in such a prestigious list, Howard said.
“When we started EatStreet in 2010, we never imagined where it would take us,” Martell said. “This is a great validation of our original vision.”