Tenacious Midwest millennials’ startup blends for-profit with charitable purpose

By January 15, 2018

Millennials make up 32% of the adult US population, and their penchant for snapping photos of dinner plates has burdened social media and the patience of the older set.

However, a tenacious set of millennial co-founders from the Midwest are using this tendency to drive business for restaurants and to give food to local food pantries with their GiftAMeal app.

Born after 1980, millennials are the first “always connected” digital and social media generation to hit the adult milestone in the US, so the food pics are normal behavior and social signals to them.

Pew Research claims that this new face of the US adult emerged with an overarching personality set that is “confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, and open to change”. Furthermore, their data states 21% of millennials saying helping others is a life priority.

Thus, smartphone pictures of meals and a common cohort personality bent toward tenacity and serving others are being blended by the Midwest startup GiftAMeal.

GiftAMeal works simply enough: the restaurants pay to be listed on the app, and when a patron posts a photo of a meal from one of their partners, the app diverts part of the GiftAMeal’s revenue to a local food bank, enough to cover at least one meal per one photo taken.

Co-Founder and COO at GiftAMeal, Aidan Folbe

The millennial co-founders of Aidan Folbe and Andrew Glantz are a tenacious duo who first used their own saved money to get started, all to have the original app fail in the first two months. Then, in 2015, they launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that raised 285% of their goal, which was enough to get them started on the journey to their current success.

After adding competition and grant money to their resources, in 2016, they finally were approved for their first investment from Capital Innovators of $100,000. GiftAMeal was the first startup in Capital Innovators portfolio that came from undergrad students.

Now, GiftAMeal is on track to break even, including paying the co-founder salaries, by the end of 2019. And their monthly revenue as of Dec. 2017 was 195% higher than in 2016. Currently, they have 100 restaurant partners on their app: 75 in St. Louis, 25 in Chicago, and 6 in Detroit.

Their monetary donations go to Operation Food Search in St. Louis, Lakeview Pantry in Chicago, and Forgotten Harvest in Detroit. GiftAMeal knows that the donations cover refrigeration, transportation, and labor costs to distribute the food to local food pantries The running total on the GiftAMeal site shows 101,227 meals provided.

Co-Founder and CEO at GiftAMeal, Andrew Glantz

At the age of 23, Andrew has matured a great deal from when he changed his major at Washington University 8 times to when he and Aidan decided on creating GiftAMeal over a lunch break during an internship. Andrew graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washington University, in St. Louis, and founded GiftAMeal there rather than his hometown in Southern California. He mentioned in an interview with St. Louis Business Journal this about the entrepreneurship ecosystem in St. Louis:

Whenever I’ve needed a helping hand or support system, St. Louis has been there. There’s also been a ton of entrepreneurial resources that have been developing.

These millennial co-founders deserve a moment highlighting their volunteer work, which shows this startup is not just a one-time thing to help out.

Aidan is from the Detroit area and has a history of volunteering with children there. Since 2011, Aidan has been a mentor at Friendship Circle of Michigan in their work with families with children with special needs and is now their President. Plus, he’s mentored impoverished kids through First Tee, teaching golf and its associated life values.

Andrew is also passionate about volunteering in his home area of Southern California and earned the Presidential Service award 4 years in a row through his dedication to helping children. As Vice President of Jr. Variety that connects teens and young adult to kids in need, Andrew raised over $300,000 during his 4-year tenure. Also, he’s been a camp counselor at Camp Harmony for homeless kids.