StudentsEat is an on-campus food delivery service that delivers food available from campus vendors to any student or faculty member’s exact location. MacEwan University students Sagar Dasaur and Ismail Khalil came up with the concept last year when they were on campus and wanted to buy food but did not want to waste time or lose their study spot. StudentsEat currently operates at MacEwan, University of Alberta, and will soon expand onto the NAIT campus.
What makes StudentsEat exceptional is that it employs only students, which is helpful on large campuses because “students know where other students are,” says Khalil.
The company is also focused on helping the student population because “university students don’t have a lot of time to work, so StudentsEat is a good opportunity for them to make money around their class hours on campus,” says Dasaur.
Presently, StudentsEat has delivered over 2,500 orders across both MacEwan and the University of Alberta, receives about 15 to 50 orders daily, and has a projection of up to 200 orders monthly. Despite the company’s visible growth, there were some inevitable challenges along the way. “It was hard to know where our place was,” notes Khalil.
That is, the company’s goal was not to compete with other food services on campus but to rather find a way to work together. Furthermore, Dasaur comments that one of the company’s prior challenges was “not having enough staff to fulfill orders, which was a good challenge to have.” Despite the hardships, the creators are pleased with their overall progress and Dasaur describes it as “perseverance.” Dasaur and Khalil also note that the success would not have been possible without their team which works together to help the company grow every day.
StudentsEat is “impacting MacEwan’s food services in many positive ways” notes Susan Cooper, senior manager of Hospitality Services at MacEwan. Cooper mentions that the service “increases the convenience of food services so students can order their food, and have it delivered; saving valuable time so students can continue studying,” along with “providing job opportunities for students.” Most importantly, students are reacting positively to StudentsEat by using and providing the service which shows that “this is something they are interested in,” says Cooper.
The fact that StudentsEat was created by MacEwan students demonstrates the students’ potential and the opportunities that the university provides. Cooper notes, “The fact that (Dasaur and Khalil) started this business while they are full-time students at the University shows tremendous dedication and initiative on their part … They’re definitely an inspiration to other students.”
Looking back at his experience, Dasaur says, “your idea matters, but your execution matters most.”
Khalil’s advice for students who are interested in starting a business is to “take advantage of campus opportunities and you just have to start.”
Both creators note that it is essential to determine the company’s minimum viable product, which is a development technique in which a new product is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adaptors. Dasaur and Khalil advise that it is essential to start and not worry about the business model being perfect because you can always tweak things as you grow.