Deepti Sharma Kapur, of the highly anctipated FoodToEat, an online food ordering company, is a fearless entrepreneur, a savvy businesswoman, a political science buff, and a family-oriented foodie. She’s one heck of a busy gal with a list of accolades that span from here to forever, that’s for sure! We most recently met up at her company’s New York City launch party (a fabulous soiree!) where she worked the crowd like a runway model. The party went off without a hitch, a trend we have come to expect from anything with Deepti’s stamp! I was lucky enough to have a moment post-celebration to interview this charming young lady. And just in case you weren’t already blown away, I feel inclined to note that Ms. Kapur jets off to India tomorrow. Can we talk about busy?! Deepti elegantly schooled me on the ins and out of launching a small business while talking (yep, you guessed it, our favorite thing) food with me.
Sarah Buchanan: How did you initially get involved in the food services industry? Tell us the story of FoodToEat.
Deepti Kapur: Throughout college I worked in restaurants. Being that I was a business major, my senior year I looked into the restaurant industry; I was interested in learning more about it. After graduation, I was studying for the LSATs and while admiring the Treats Truck from the library window, but with little time for a break, I saw the need to skip the wait at food trucks. I thought there was a business there. Restaurants already have delivery websites made for them, but there wasn’t one for food trucks. I decided to make a site that would make my favorite trucks more accessible to the general public!
SB: So how does FoodToEat work?
DK: FoodToEat is very simple. It cuts the wait time in lines at food trucks while making the food ordering process easy and efficient. The site allows you to enter your address and then it tells you the restaurants closest to you or where each truck is in relation to your address. The food trucks can receive orders through our web portal. Each truck has a GPRS printer that prints orders in the trucks as they are placed. Conversely, they can get orders emailed to their smart phones; there are multiple options.
SB: Tell us how FoodToEat is different than the various other online food ordering services out there?
DK: FoodToEat differs in the sense that we are the only ones that work with food trucks. We make them more accessible to the general public. We are also the only ones that help the community with sustainable pricing. Where others sites charge vendors 10-18% we charge $0.10 per order!
SB: So you must see a market in college students and busy young professionals, like yourself?
DK: Absolutely, college students are looking for the easy way with their busy schedules so this system is the perfect way for them to access food. Busy young professionals are always working so they need something that makes the ordering process easier as well.
SB: What are your goals for the business?
DK: To expand as much as possible to other cities, especially the food truck cities since that is our cutting edge. We’re working on another website for reservations called SeekATable.com. We want to become the one stop solution for all restaurant needs.
SB: What was the most important to you in setting up the various business partnerships with food vendors throughout the city?
DK: Just making sure that the vendors understood the way our system worked and that they were comfortable with the system we were offering; many of them weren’t used to these technologies at first.
SB: What were some of the biggest obstacles in getting your business off the ground and running?
DK: Definitely trying to convince new food truck owners how our service will benefit their operation. These guys are also running new businessess like us so we had to convince them that we were worth using. Also, trying to talk to people in different languages while making sure they were, and are, comfortable; the immigrant food cart owners were very ingrained in their routine and we had to bring them out of it. For restaurants, some had been doing the same things for over 10 years so we had to prove that making a change would be worth it.
SB: So you’re now a member of the huge food services industry in New York City? Have you always been a NYC eater?
SB: Yes, I definitely consider myself part of the food industry now. I have always been an eater; in my house everyone loves eating and cooking. To sum it up, yes I have always been an eater!
SB: Where are some of your favorite places to dine throughout the city?
DK: Hmmm….Meatball Shop- I love their vegetarian meatballs, BaoHaus and Dos Toros Tacos.
SB: And obviously you must love the food truck scene? What are some can’t miss eats?
DK: Definitely. Some cant miss eats: Wafels & Dinges, Biryani Cart on 46th and 6th Ave., Veronicas, Cool Haus and Big D’s Grub Truck.
SB: Do you cook? Favorite recipe?
DK: Yes, I LOVE to cook. I learned from watching my parents. A few of my favorites: Butternut Squash Risotto, anything with Paneer (which is Indian cottage cheese), and Babaganoush.
SB: Any advice for young entrepreneurs out there?
DK: Keep yourself going no matter how many downs there are, no matter how many times people tell you you can’t do it, and don’t worry about the competition, just worry about what you need to do next.
SB: And what I need to do next is enjoy myself a nice meal with Ms. Kapur!
Sarah Buchanan is a senior studying History and Creative Writing at NYU. When she is not hard at work on her honors thesis, she is most likely running around the city in search of the best artisan pickles or at home in her apartment sharpening her culinary skills.