It's the middle of the night, and you're sitting in your dorm room, stomach growling louder than your iPod. But who will deliver at this hour?
That's exactly the situation that CampusFood.com was created for. Thirteen years ago, company president Michael Saunders was a college junior at Penn, trying to order a tuna sandwich to satisfy a midnight craving. When no one could get his order right, he decided there had to be a better way to get campus food.
Today, Saunders' dream has become a "virtual food court" that students from more than 390 college campuses can use to order food from nearby restaurants. Even though he's no longer a college student, he loves his business.
"It's easy to stay engaged because we're continually upgrading," said Saunders in an e-mail exchange. "College students are early adopters of new technology, and our connection to them keeps pushing us to grow."
Students register for the site and pick their college campus. They're then shown a list of all the nearby restaurants, with their hours, delivery fees, estimated wait time and a full menu of campus food to be delivered. Campusfood.com allows you to order online and shows restaurant coupons and specials.
Carolyn Glass, a spokeswoman for the campus food website, said via phone that the site is especially popular on cold-weather campuses, where people seem to order more. But the campus food website is constantly working to expand to new locations. One of the ways they've found to reach students is through social media, like interactive Facebook games or offers for discounts.
Students can play to earn discounts, coupons or campus food "cash." For example, Campusfood.com recently started a Facebook page for a newer market, Michigan State University in Lansing, Mich. MSU students can follow the site on Twitter or text in a code to get special discounts on campus food.
Local restaurants don't have to pay to be on the campus food website, but they do pay Campusfood.com a transactional fee for each order placed. But there's no cost to students, Glass said, other than paying for their campus food order.
Campusfood.com expands to more and more campuses every semester, said Glass, but despite this push for growth, she said it has stayed close to the original mission for campus food. She said it's easy to see why the site has been so successful.
"We reach people through their stomachs. It's so efficient, it's so convenient and it's something that everybody does. Everybody eats," said Glass.
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