There’s a new, affordable alternative to fast food for McGill University students and beyond.
Sean Kaiser, Kristina Pearkes, and Paul Bridi have known each other since they were floormates in residence their first year at McGill. But it wasn’t until they started taking a technological entrepreneurship class that they came up with an idea and considered launching a startup of their own.
They started considering the affordable food options near them during a late-night brainstorming session, all of which were fast food.
“We thought, we live in this residential area, someone around us is for sure making dinner for themselves. Not having time, if we could just grab a meal from them it would probably be better than what i can cook myself, and they can save money because they can cook a little extra, buy in bulk,” said Kaiser.
They took the idea and ran with it, entering the Pacific Venture Capital competition where they placed second out of 400 competitors, despite having little more than a few slides and an idea. They also participated in the Dobson Cup and got accepted to McGill’s X-1 Accelerator cohort this summer
It was at the McGill Accelerator that the website took its present form, with a map, profiles, and ranking system. Users can see on the map what meals are available near them, when they need to order and how many portions are left.
— Appetite (@eatappetite) October 25, 2016
With the beta website functional for a month now, they’ve had time to fix any initial bugs and are ready to start marketing in earnest.
“We’re at a university with a big pool of talent and this is a very student-made idea. We’ve already received some help from the faculty of engineering. With their help we’ve been able to have marketing interns and an intern working on the backend,” said Kaiser.
Targeting university communities is key for Appetite; since they don’t deliver, it makes sense to onboard more users in the student-dense neighbourhood around McGill, an area most students pass through to and from class everyday.
They’ve also targeted students because they are discerning with taste.
“There’s been a huge diversity of meals so far. There’s one girl who’s really active from Malaysia, so a lot of her native cuisine. There’s good indian food and there’s a really good french cook,” said Pearkes.
“A lot of passionate chefs like that, impressing people with their food,” added Bridi. “They get to see that instant gratification.”
Good taste has been one reason for Appetite’s success so far, but the other thing users seem to like is the human interaction. “We’ve been in contact with people using it and the things they say they like the most are taste and the social interactions they have with people. It’s food, but it’s also a chance to break from your routine,” said Kaiser.
After Kaiser, Pearkes, and Bridi graduate from McGill at the end of this year they hope to bring Appetite to other universities. In the meantime they’ll be getting the word out to hungry students near McGill.