An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Shy Pahlevani (founder and president) of HUNGRY, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of HUNGRY – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
When we founded HUNGRY, we wanted to answer the following question: How do we deliver fresh, delicious food to employees working in businesses everywhere? Our focus group was the corporate world itself, and as then employees of a tech start-up, we found out that eating the same sandwiches from Panera everyday got old pretty quickly!
We also wanted to deliver greater economic opportunity, recognition, and culinary freedom to chefs. As we explored the careers of many chefs, we found that these culinary geniuses work incredibly hard with almost no economic safety net.
Therefore, the HUNGRY Marketplace was born. Our online marketplace connects independent chefs with opportunities to cater for employees working in business offices and corporate buildings.
Office food delivery has its own set of challenges, and our tech platform ties together the three components to succeed. You need a user-friendly, scalable online marketplace, a commitment to first-rate order delivery and execution, and a network of world-class chefs.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
When the pandemic hit, we were able to continue our momentum and expand our logistics platform to launch three businesses. These businesses have delivered record revenue and we predict that they’ll continue to be a source of long-term growth.
Were we concerned about the future of our business, especially with so many people working from home? Of course. But we kept innovating and persisting, and now our virtual events and meal delivery services are growing at record speed.
Over the last year, we’ve grown our tech platform for office and event catering into a true community for chefs and representatives from the prepared food production and delivery services industries. The platform showcases opportunities for business and event catering, contracted meal delivery services, chef-centric pop-ups, and virtual chef experiences.
What does the future hold for HUNGRY?
World domination in the food solutions space! We want HUNGRY to be America’s go-to chef-centric platform. However, we’re also eyeing expansion into Europe and Asia.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Arlington?
The tech scene in Arlington is really growing, and we were thrilled to recently win the Growth Company of the Year award from Technical.ly DC. We started out in shared office space where we watched the buzzing entrepreneurial community take off. As a food business, we are in good company, as some big names have also put down roots in the DC area, such as SweetGreen, Cava, and Honest Tea.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Had we not innovated when COVID hit, we would probably have to shut our doors like so many other catering companies. So my advice is this: keep going. Staying resilient is about being flexible and willing to change course when something’s not working.