Students at Columbia University have developed a food delivery service specifically geared towards getting food from dining halls around campus. Called Grubify, the app-based service got official approval from the university last week and will launch a beta program, according to the Columbia Spectator.
The Grubify app was designed specifically to make the process of getting food from the dining hall easier for students. Founders Kidus Zelalem, Amir Mustefa, and Noah Velazquez got the idea for the app last year after noticing that many students struggled to actually get to the dining room for meals because of health reasons and hectic schedules. At the same time, delivery via the usual suspects (Grubhub, DoorDash, etc.) is expensive.
Grubify solves both problems by offering an app that integrates with students’ existing meal plans. Students pay for meals with swipes from their dining plans, and can order from a number of campus-owned dining halls and locations. The only extra charge is a delivery fee, which is calculated based on current traffic at the dining hall and a student’s distance from the location they are ordering from. The app takes payments through platforms like Apple Pay as well as a Venmo-like system the company developed called Grubify Cash.
“The app is optimized so that orders are routed to the most convenient deliverer because of the ecosystem we’re in and our knowledge of the campus,” Velazquez told the Columbia Spectator.
To that end, the service employs current Columbia students as couriers who drop off the actual food. Couriers can accept or reject deliveries much as they would on any other food delivery app then cash out immediately after the food is dropped off to receive payment in their bank accounts.
Though its service is currently only available at Columbia right now, Grubify is actually an independent business from the university, and the founders hope to take it to other schools in future.
The company’s plans for expansion makes sense. College campuses are fertile grounds for food delivery at the moment. Snackpass, which was founded at Yale in 2017, just raised $21 million for its app. Foodservice giant Aramark, which supplies many college campuses around the U.S. acquired Good Uncle in 2019. Grubhub acquired Tapingo in 2018, and let’s not forget about the delivery bots from Starship, Kiwi, and others currently roving around many campuses now.
For its part, Grubify told the Spectator it is in talks with university foodservice providers and hopes to expand to other schools in the future. Interestingly, the next few weeks could be a real test of how in-demand an app that integrates with student dining plans could be. The NY Post reported over the weekend that Columbia is cancelling two days of classes this week due to the coronavirus outbreak. As concerns around being in large crowds of people grow, more students may be holing up in their dorm rooms and ordering meals for delivery. In which case, Grubify may see a surge in demand for its service in the very near future.