April 21st, 2021 – Seattle, WA – Food delivery companies have been out there for a long time, and they have changed with rising consumer demands. Most of the companies today got their break from being a startup to becoming a giant nationwide company when smartphones became a norm. Unbeknownst to many, popular food delivery apps leverage technology at their best to deliver your post-game Saturday dinner or that Tuesday night pizza.
After placing an order online, your order is only sent to a restaurant when a potential delivery driver is located nearby. These drivers are often independent contractors paid meager fees in return for safely delivering your order. A good chunk of the extra fees that almost double your food cost go towards running the technology infrastructure behind the scenes. One of the downsides of today’s food delivery companies is that their focus is on profitability. Technology allows them to reduce their costs of running a marketplace of restaurants and customers, but the cost is pretty much always beared by the restaurants.
Hemant Kumar, the owner of Himalaya Grill, a local Indian restaurant in the Seattle area open since 2004, says that the number of dine-in customers has gone down over the years, and he has had to move his entire focus on delivery in the last few years. His commission payments to DoorDash and UberEats take a hefty chunk close to 30% of every order, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only bolstered the impact on his business.
It’s hard to imagine what the impact will be in the long term, but most of the restaurants are small businesses that contribute to the local economy. A better solution that creates more jobs and works well for both the restaurants and customers would be the future.
One such company that worked on a mission to help local businesses and chefs was MenuJet. It was founded in 2017 and closed its operations due to strict regulations around food safety. MenuJet offered food delivery services from home chefs at zero commission. It was able to do so by driving a higher volume of orders to a smaller number of local chefs.
The founder of MenuJet, Devansh Modi, came to the United States at the age of 18 on a scholarship from the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University. He successfully became a National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge scholar in 2017 for addressing challenges facing society via entrepreneurship. While studying at Penn State University, he delved into consumer-facing software applications, eventually building MenuJet to help the local restaurants and businesses. He recalls his experience in writing code from a young age when he also built Asia’s first Tier-4 datacenter cloud hosting service at the age of 15, called MountSpot.
Devansh graduated from Penn State University in 2018 with a degree in Computer Science.
Startups like MenuJet have the potential to create new jobs and invigorate local economies across the country, especially in a time when small businesses are struggling to stay afloat.