Olin senior fights hunger with successful business venture

Did you know you can feed the hungry just by ordering a meal (for yourself) at your favorite restaurant? Or that you can discover a new favorite restaurant, try a new dish, and – at no cost to you – give a meal to someone in need?

Or should we say… GiftAMeal?

This is all thanks to a business venture with that name founded by Andrew Glantz, a WashU senior in the Olin Business School. The venture’s tagline is “Eat a meal. Make a difference.” And GiftAMeal has made a difference in the way of 15,479 meals provided so far to people in need.

GiftAMeal is an app that allows you to find a participating restaurant (currently more than 100 in St. Louis and Chicago) and take a photo at the restaurant to provide a meal. Who doesn’t love to take photos of their tasty food these days? You can also recommend the restaurant to friends and share your photo on social media to provide an additional meal.

Here are a few things we thought you should know about Andrew Glantz and GiftAMeal:

Q. What is your major?
I am a senior majoring in leadership & strategic management, with a minor in political science.

Q. Where is your home, and what brought you to WashU?
I am from Los Angeles. I had heard great things about WashU, so I decided to visit. My sister had a friend here, who then introduced me to his friends. The students were so welcoming, kind, and smart, that it made my decision to go to WashU easy.

Q. When and why did you decide to start GiftAMeal? Can you describe the process a bit?
The summer going into my sophomore year (2014), I was interning at a venture capital firm. With startups coming in every day with their innovative ideas seeking investment, another intern, Aidan Folbe, and I were thrown into the startup world. While on a lunch break at an Italian restaurant, we came up with the idea for GiftAMeal to help people discover great restaurants, help restaurants get new customers, and to ultimately help the community. We spent a couple months doing research, gathering advice, and interviewing app developers. Then, we each put our savings into the company and started it up! It has truly been a second education alongside what I have gained in my coursework from WashU.

Q. How has WashU supported you through the process, and what WashU resources have you used in your venture?
WashU is always there for me to provide me the encouragement to keep pushing my venture forward and strive for higher levels of achievement. People here have been extraordinarily supportive and helpful throughout my entrepreneurial journey. The Skandalaris Center was a great resource to provide advice and guidance, as well as point me toward startup competitions to enter, resulting in prize money. My professors have always been happy to meet with me to give their thoughts based on their expertise, and my friends give me their honest feedback as well. With terrific mentors at WashU involved in entrepreneurship like Emre Toker and Cliff Holekamp, WashU is primed to rise as a top entrepreneurial university in the years to come.

Q. How has GiftAMeal grown? What makes the business scalable beyond WashU and St. Louis?
GiftAMeal has grown through our team’s meticulous efforts to test what works and what doesn’t. We utilize every connection we have in our network to get in contact with the best advisors to supplement our young ages. Much of our success can be credited to the help others have given us. I have found that you are most likely to succeed when you are genuine and kind to others, and then those individuals put forth a great effort to help you succeed. We have grown GiftAMeal through cold calls, door-to-door restaurant sales, conferences, guerrilla marketing, and harboring a constant entrepreneurial spirit. We have already expanded GiftAMeal to our first city outside of St. Louis. We now have more than 100 restaurants in St. Louis and Chicago. We will seek to scale to new cities through chain restaurants in the next year, and then build our base of independent restaurants around those regions.

Q. Do you plan to stay with GiftAMeal after graduation?
I do plan on sticking with GiftAMeal post-graduation. I am fully committed to making it a success for the sake of my team, my investors, the community, and my personal ambition.

Q. What else have you been involved with during your time at WashU?
I have held multiple executive board positions for the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon, the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, and the Olin Sports Management Organization. I also was a co-owner of the Trading Post storefront on WashU’s campus for two years. I like to stay active and play on eight different intramural sports teams each year.

Q. Is there anything else we should know about you or your experiences?
Being a student entrepreneur and having a fun college experience are not mutually exclusive! I have had an amazing time at WashU and would encourage other students to create their own path by following their passions, as I have. WashU will support you in your endeavors, and you can achieve extraordinary things if you put your mind to it.