(Photo by Juliana Reyes)
Andrew Nakkache barely has a voice when we meet up with him Monday afternoon at the South by Southwest trade show in Austin.
“You don’t have any cough drops, do you?” the 23-year-old founder of Habitat asks us.
We’re standing near the Arcweb booth, where head of strategy David Whitaker was telling us about partying with Capital One — an Arcweb client — the night before.
Er, no cough drops, sorry.
Nakkache runs off for a second and returns with a can of iced tea. OK, he’s ready to talk now.
Nakkache runs Habitat, a food delivery service akin to Postmates, but with a model that keeps food vendors happy, he insists. Habitat is focused on college campuses (Temple, currently) and only delivers food from vendors (like food trucks) that sign on.
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For SXSW, on ROAR for Good cofounder Anthony Gold’s suggestion, he decided to throw together a conference-specific version of the app. It’s a rather intensive process: Nakkache had to hire food runners beforehand on Craigslist, get the new apps accepted by the Apple and Google app stores and get Austin food trucks on board. Actually, Nakkache scratched that last bit because it became too complicated and he wanted to get the app running. It’s been a lift, not to mention that Nakkache got sick as he landed in Austin, but he doesn’t seem too fazed.
“We did it to show that we can do it,” he tells us.
He guaranteed the food runners wages at $10/hour, so if the app is a total bust at SXSW, he’d be out about $400. They launched it Sunday and he admits no one has ordered anything yet. (We advise him to advertise it to the people manning trade show booths, since they get fined $500 if they leave their booth empty.) But he’s hopeful. It just takes one person to notice the app, he says.
Nakkache and his cofounder Michael Paszkiewicz graduated from Temple in January. They won first place in Temple’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl competition last year in the undegrad track. Right before SXSW, Nakkache took a trip to San Francisco for the LAUNCH startup festival in hopes of forging early relationships with investors. That’s because there’s not much Series A capital in Philadelphia for consumer-facing products, he says.
“Wait, are you sure you’re not hungry?” he asks us, scrolling through Habitat’s app. Let’s just get empanadas, he says. “One for me, one for you.” OK, sure, we say. And with that, he’s off.
(Full disclosure: we left before we could eat it.)