Student startup reduces meal delivery fees using lockers

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Four UT students set up a meal delivery system on campus that cuts down on fees seen from competitors such as UberEats and Favor.

With the Picko app, students pay a $1 fee to have a meal from local restaurants delivered at specific times to a locker on campus where they retrieve it, co-founder Rambod Yousefzadeh said. He said restaurant options include Halal Bros, Torchy’s Tacos, Home Slice Pizza, In-N-Out, Teji’s and Hopdoddy Burger Bar. The startup hopes to offer even more options in the future.

The two sets of lockers, located in the Blackstone Launchpad at the Flawn Academic Center and near Gregory Gymnasium, were custom built by engineering and computer science students and started operations in September, Yousefzadeh said. He said the business is profitable because the system eliminates the wait time of transferring food to the customer and allows deliveries to multiple people at once.

“It’s good for us because we don’t have to wait for every individual to come and pick up their item, and it’s good for students because if they’re leaving their classes or they need five more minutes, we can just say take your time, you don’t pay any extra charges,” engineering graduate student Yousefzadeh said.

 

Co-founder Helia Ghassemian said Picko started because of her student experience, where she did not want to eat the meals on campus but found delivery options too expensive.

“During my college years, I would always skip lunch,” UT alumna Ghassemian said. “(The options) are kind of expensive … and obviously, being a student … I’m not going to spend that money every meal. We thought about what if we had an option that could deliver really good food to campus with a really low delivery fee, so all the college students could afford it. If they’re paying seven or eight dollars for a meal, at least they could enjoy the meal.”

Picko has had 56 customers in its 10-week span of operation, with one customer returning nine times, Yousefzadeh said.

Hannah Hoang, international relations and global studies freshman, said she uses food delivery apps because of their convenience but can be deterred by fees.

“Whenever I use food delivery services, it’s because I’m on the go or I just can’t physically be at the restaurant,” Hoang said. “Sometimes, (delivery) is pricey, and I will be like, ‘I don’t want to pay an extra seven dollars for delivery when that can be another meal right there.’”