This 23-year-old food-delivery founder is going all out for SXSW - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 17, 2016 12:37 pm

This 23-year-old food-delivery founder is going all out for SXSW

Habitat cofounder Andrew Nakkache and his team threw together a version of their app specifically for the Austin conference.

Habitat founder Andrew Nakkache, sick at South by Southwest but still hustlin'. (Photo by Juliana Reyes)

(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.

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.

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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.)

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes became Technical.ly's associate editor after reporting on the Philadelphia tech scene for four years. She's co-president of the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter and a two-time Philadelphia News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." The Bryn Mawr College grad lives in West Philly, likes her food spicy and wears jumpsuits often.

  • http://www.about.me/stevepalmer Steve Palmer

    Andrew – I commend you on your hustle, determination, perseverance, and desire to learn. You can’t win or lose if you don’t go for it and I know you are going for it. It’s brave and you will gain so much form this experience.

    • Andrew Nakkache

      Thanks a bunch Steve! We’re getting after it!

  • Glenn Bergman

    Love to speak to you about getting food left over from restaurants, caters, hotels, etc that would normally be wasted to people or agencies that can give it out. Philabundance works with hundreds of agencies many could give out food that normally would be wasted…

    • Andrew Nakkache

      Hi Glenn,

      That sounds awesome, and I would love to find a time to chat. My email is Andrew@tryhabitat.com.

      • Glenn Bergman

        I see this is an old conversation… 215 913 9437

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