In 1997, Michael Saunders noticed a growing need and problem faced among the University of Pennsylvania student body: students wanted to order food for delivery to their campus dorms and apartments using a fast, convenient method all online. He soon created CampusFood.com–a website for students living in college towns and cities to order their pizzas and take-out Chinese food from local restaurants for delivery on campus. A revolutionary idea: no picking up food at the restaurant, no more calling to place your order. With just a few clicks, students were able to get their favorite foods delivered to their doorsteps. Today, nearly 20 years later, CampusFood.com has merged with GrubHub and Seamless, becoming one of the most popular online food delivery services in the country.
Today, Michael is serving as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at The Garage, and works on his own projects while offering his time and talents as a mentor and resource for student entrepreneurs. His experience creating CampusFood.com as a college student gives him optimal insight into the experience of student entrepreneurs at The Garage and positions him with an understanding insight into the world of student-founded startups.
Michael shared a few key points of advice for those looking to embark on their own startup journey while in school (and beyond, of course):
- Talk to as many people as you can. Being in college can limit your perspective of the implications of your idea, so talking to more people can really broaden your perspective. And be willing to talk to people, instead of being protective of your ideas.
- Identify realistic “next-step” goals. Don’t focus entirely on the end result; instead, make interim goals that are feasible to accomplish.
- Identify people’s pain points and figure out how to alleviate them, because that’s what gets people excited and interested in using your product or service.