Entrepreneur at Reading's Jump Start Incubator wants to help feed the hungry through food delivery
Delivery is not a luxury, it's a need.
That's the insight that led Endaisha Thornton to start a new business. And his ambition to succeed may be as strong as his insight into the niche. He's been working for about nine months at Jump Start Incubator in Reading on a business that has both capital and social implications, Buy Digital HQ. He has just kicked off a $15,000 fundraising push at the end of February through the crowdfunding website gofundme.com.
His fundraiser video dramatizes the concept, at https://bit.ly/2Hua0yR, and has attracted three donors by Wednesday afternoon. The money will go toward building an app and marketing it. Thornton's member-based company will combine a grocery giveaway with delivery of store items through a yet-to-be-released app. "In other words we will hire drivers to deliver the most commonly bought items from retail stores and we'll be taking a bite out of world hunger doing so," Thornton said.
But Thornton isn't just proposing he delivery grocery items, food or whatever else you want him to get, he's setting up the business so that members will be automatically entered in a grocery giveaway. Here's where the social change aspect comes in — Thornton wants to give winners the chance to give their grocery win to someone who is hungry. "When a member is drawn they have the option to accept the giveaway or sponsor it to someone else," he wrote in an explanation of the program. "They'll have the choice of selecting someone specific or selecting random at which the company will select someone for them." But his plan is not to stop there. Once he builds his customer base he aims to leverage his platform for other companies to advertise to his members.
The delivery sector has grown, nationally and locally. Nationally, a recent Wall Street Journal analysis concluded that grocery-delivery companies Instacart and Shipt have expanded aggressively into new markets across the country, delivering to customers beyond dense urban centers and coastal areas. A report from Chicago-based food industry consultants, Pentallect Inc., found "third-party delivery services are now mainstream: 13 percent of consumers have used a third-party restaurant meal delivery service and 6 percent a grocery delivery service in the past 30 days."
The consultants predicted third-party food delivery service revenues will "effectively double in the next five years, with projected annual growth of 13.5 percent — about five times the total food industry rate." In his business plan, Thornton said he has identified potential customers in greater Reading including working people who need lunch delivery, people who have specific needs such as those with vegan and gluten-free diets, the elderly who can't carry groceries and millennials who prefer the convenience of technology. Locally, the delivery sector is getting crowded with Delivery Dudes, Grubhub, Shipt, Instacart as well as smaller supermarkets such as C-Town and Bravo delivering their own items. Thornton said what sets his concept apart is its social purpose of donating to feed the hungry. He has not announced a launch date for the app.
Journalist: Lisa Scheid