Interview: EAT Club Founder, Kevin Yang Aims to Revolutionize Personal Lunch Delivery

Learn how two co-founders were inspired to take a Mumbai-based food delivery concept and develop it domestically, despite being told by their Stanford Business School professor that it...

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For most corporate employees, lunch options are lackluster at best. Many office workers find themselves wondering, “Are there any good lunch spots close by?” For many, the answer is a resounding “No.”

In 2010 EAT Club co-founder Kevin Yang — along with Rodrigo Santibanez — aimed to change that fact by creating an online service dedicated to doing lunch differently; providing restaurant quality food, no fees or minimum order and free delivery.

The personal lunch delivery service offers curated menus from a rotating list of local restaurants. Office workers of small- and medium-sized companies order lunch by 10:30am and receive it at their front desks by 12:30pm. Meals start at $8.95, and there are no minimum orders or additional tips or fees.

In June 2011, the founders received $1.5M in seed funding to further refine their technology and focus on expansion. Today, the Palo Alto-based company serves most of Silicon Valley with plans to expand nationwide.

“We are solving the lunch problem for office workers. What that means is that we create daily menus, daily crafty menus and deliver it to office workers at an extremely affordable price,” said Yang.

“You can order online by mobile. What we’re trying to do is make lunch so easy to do online that you always use EAT Club instead of going to a drive-in or walking to a restaurant, similar to the way people use Netflix instead of driving to Blockbuster to rent a video.”

Learn how co-founders Yang and Santibanex were inspired to take a Mumbai-based food delivery concept and develop it domestically, despite being told by their Stanford Business School professor that it would never work in the U.S.

Company: EAT Club
Founders: Kevin Yang, Rodrigo Santibanez
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Industry: Online Food Service
Startup Year: 2010
Startup Costs: Undisclosed

How I Got Started:

We started EAT Club because we had a personal experience working places where there wasn’t any good food. People would raid the vending machines, walk to the McDonalds across the street, or if they were desperate they would go to the terrible deli in the basement. It was really a shame because there was so much good food in the area.

When Rodrigo and I were at Stanford Business School, we studied the dabbawala in Mumbai, India; [a person who is employed to collect freshly cooked food in lunch boxes from the residences of office workers (mostly in the suburbs), deliver it to their respective workplaces and return the empty boxes back to the customer’s residence.]

Basically, they developed a really sophisticated system where deliver food from people’s homes all the way to their offices through the mass transit system. “Mumbai dabbawala’s deliver and return 130,000 dabbas, or ‘tiffins’ every day. According to Forbes magazine, they have a Six Sigma rating of 99.999999 which means less than one out of every six million deliveries goes amiss.” What the school tried to teach us was that it can’t be done here; that is was something unique to India.

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