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Fall 2014
Think of Mealski when the munchies strike

New app is brainchild of UIndy student

College is a great time for socializing with friends. One of the best ways students bond is over food—those impromptu late-night pizza sessions in your room, for example—and sometimes going out to eat is either inconvenient or impossible.

Imagine how great it would be if you could have restaurant food delivered right to your residence hall. Senior Dan Owenby, a supply chain management major from Rochester Hills, Mich., is part of a team that’s making that a reality, launching an app dubbed Mealski.

“Mealski is a food delivery app. It’s similar to others, but we have transformed it into a new service, because they don’t offer delivery,” Dan says. “We hire the delivery drivers, which creates good jobs for students, and they deliver from local restaurants to the residence halls in around 10 minutes.”

The idea for Mealski came from work in a class taught by School of Business professor Stan Osweiler. Over the course of several semesters, the rough idea was refined into a specific business model that has grown into a feasible concept.

Shades of ‘Shark Tank’

One of the experiences in the process of developing the startup company was especially interesting. After the basic concept was clarified and a specific plan to carry it out, the idea was pitched to venture capitalists in downtown Indianapolis. As on the popular ABC TV show “Shark Tank,” several investors looked over their ideas, and at least one decided that the idea was bound to be a success.

“From there,” Dan says, “I took it to a few app companies in town and signed a contract for app development.”

With that crucial step, the dream suddenly started to become a reality. Then began months of preparations for moving the company forward. The next logical step was to find somewhere to launch the app on a small scale to refine the processes they one day hope to expand.

UIndy’s the appetizer

“Initially, we will target only college campuses, and then, once it is perfected, we can expand to other markets. UIndy will be a great test market because we developed it on campus—we have ties to the University. I’m a student here, and we think it would be great for students.”

The business has a number of UIndy supporters who have been there to encourage the business venture every step of the way.

“Stan Osweiler has been a key person [in developing the business] throughout the whole process,” Dan says. “He has been a great advisor. And the support from the staff and from the University has been great.”

So how does it work?

Dan offers a Mealski demo:  Straight from his smartphone, he demonstrates how to get a made-to-order item from Subway. Mealski lists all their options for a sandwich, and hungry students can check the items they want. That information is sent directly to the nearest store, where they begin making the sandwich. At the same time, a driver is dispatched to pick it up for delivery. In mere minutes, the meal appears.

And now, the long wait for the app is almost over—in fact, Mealski could be coming to campus before the semester ends. With the launch date looming, the company has to finish the last of the preparations to make sure that launch day is a complete success. Drivers are yet to be hired and more businesses to be added to the list of Mealski clients.

“We get one shot [at the launch],” Dan says. “We want to make the first view from the public a great one and make sure that everything is right.”

—Robbie Hadley ’17