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Students create fast-food delivery business

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | MAY 06, 2011 7:20 AM

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Fast food just got faster.

Two University of Iowa students recently embarked on an entrepreneurial endeavor to rescue dorm-bound students from their fast-food cravings by bringing it to their doorstep.

UI junior Nick Beary and sophomore Rishabh Nath are the masterminds behind Fast Food Iowa.

Both Iowa natives, the two met last year while serving in the UI Student Government. Recalling their days in the dorms, Nath and Beary said students without cars find it difficult to snag their favorite fast food. And with other restaurants delivering, Beary said, “Why not fast food, too?”

“The seed was planted, and it sprung from there,” the 21-year-old Beary said.

The duo sat in the IMU Wednesday, clad in nice ties and suit jackets paired with jeans. They had set up their laptops on a couple tables — their office for the day.



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With the support of family and friends, a startup investment of roughly $2,000, and market research, the friends laid the groundwork for Fast Food Iowa. After establishing their menu options and slightly marked-up prices from McDonalds, Arby’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King, the business started April 19.

Initially, the menu offered 20 items, and it has since expanded to 80. As Beary and Nath field orders throughout the day, one man makes all the delivery runs: Jon Stoltz.

Originally from Seattle, he recently came to Iowa City to attend Kirkwood Community College. The 29-year-old said he saw the job opening for Fast Food Iowa online and applied.

“When I first heard about it, I thought, well that’s kind of weird,” he said.

Though he said he personally tries to stay away from fast food, he admits to having a soft spot for Arby’s Jamocha shakes.

Hopping into his van about 8 p.m. Wednesday, Stoltz zipped to Burger King, 1445 Boyrum St., where he picked up several burgers, fries, and a drink. The drive-through attendant seemed surprised when Stoltz — already on his fourth trip to the fast-food establishment that evening — pulled up to the window. He placed the bags of food into a heating container in the back seat during the drive.

Five minutes later, Stoltz zoomed up to the front of Hillcrest, where he met freshman Lucas Sandry.

“It probably isn’t actually worth it,” the 19-year-old said about the $10 burger and fries, holding his Burger King bags. “But when you have a craving, you have a craving.”

Sandry said he learned about the service from magnets on the dorm doors. But as far as marketing strategies go, it’s minimal, Beary said and laughed. Though they invested in some ad space on Facebook, such forums as Twitter have really pushed the business forward.

“This really shows the power of social media and the Internet,” Beary said.

The two, who have made at least enough to cover their investment and more, are basking in the glow of their first business endeavor, and they have a few other ideas tucked away. They’re in the process of hiring more drivers.

They also hope to form discount deals with fast-food establishments and talk with fraternities about catering possibilities. They said the Hawkeye football season could bring a wave of success.

But regardless of the service’s future, the rush of owning your own business makes the endeavor all worthwhile, Nath said.

“We do whatever we can to be successful — it’s exciting,” he said.


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