Student founds HungryBoiler to simplify online ordering process for local restaurants
Who they are
In 2008, Papa John’s International announced that its online sales were growing on average more than 50 percent each year, and neared $400 million in 2007. At the time, Nick Moore was attending Indiana University while his best friend since preschool, Miles Hodge, was attending Purdue; both students had their sights on a law degree. But as major restaurant chains were expanding their business through online ordering, Moore noticed that other website startups were taking a hyper local approach with a viable business model.
Inspired by a consolidated menu guide at Penn State, which featured a scanned copy of every menu on campus, Moore’s friend Mike Roland worked with Penn State alumni to develop a more white-label version of the technology for IU. As a junior member of the initiative, Moore primarily was responsible for handing out postcards and fliers about the new website to increase use and promote the brand.
What they're doing
By the time Moore was a senior at IU, he had moved in with Rolland to fully immerse himself in the business and learn the intricate details that make the model work. Moore pitched the creation of a similar website on Purdue’s campus to his friend Hodge, who had an expansive network of fraternity brothers and other contacts within Purdue’s Old Masters program.
In the summer of 2010, HungryBoiler.com went live. The website provides students, faculty and residents of West Lafayette with a simplified and efficient method to order food online for takeout and delivery. It eliminates the inconvenience of finding phone numbers, finding menus, being put on hold and miscommunication. Moreover, the service offers exclusive online ordering deals, pricing and restaurant hours, which can be updated in real time by store owners. HungryBoiler now lists more than 300 menus and counting, from nearly every restaurant in the Greater Lafayette area.
How they got there
Two members of the students’ close personal network supplied them with funds to franchise the online ordering technology, while other individuals within their network introduced them to experienced lawyers. Moore began soliciting advice from several members of the community including local business owners and professors from Purdue.
The business model from day one has been a "pay-as-you-go" approach for restaurant owners, who can opt to provide their menu and hours of operation at no upfront cost with a minimal percentage of every online order going back to the startup. Restaurant owners also may purchase custom advertising packages to increase their exposure on the site.
But Moore says the most important aspect of their business is customer satisfaction. Agreeing from the beginning that at least one member of the HungryBoiler team would need to maintain a local presence, Moore has made this his full-time career while Hodge is participating in the Teach for America program and finishing up his master’s degree in education. Moore even publishes his personal cell phone number on the website so he can be accessible at all times in case there’s a problem with an order. They continue to develop their brand by participating in causes they believe in. In March, for example, the owners will donate 10 cents of every order for a full week to Purdue’s Big Man on Campus event, which raises money for breast cancer awareness.
"A lot of people will start a website, throw it out in cyberspace and cross their fingers that someone’s going to stumble across it, but we’re driving this business from the ground up," Moore says. "Every single day we go out and market and talk about our business. At the same time, you can have all the energy and enthusiasm in the world, but it’s really hard to compensate for wisdom and experience so it’s important for young entrepreneurs to surround themselves with people who can give unbiased advice and direction."