Parent Entrepreneur Shares with Tomorrow’s Rising Stars

Upper School students enrolled in the Social Entrepreneurship class spend the semester engaged in authentic educational experiences, as well as case studies and curated readings, to learn more about how individuals and organizations use business skills and strategies to innovatively and sustainably solve social, environmental and economic problems. Outside speakers frequently visit to share their expertise and “real-world” examples of entrepreneurship in action. Most recently, Parker parent Matt Maloney shared some of his personal experience in founding GrubHub and reinforced much of what students have already learned this year.

Maloney first spoke about the origins of GrubHub in 2004. At that point in time, Maloney was trying to use the Internet and early geolocation technology to help people know which restaurants delivered to their specific locations, charging participating restaurants $100 a month.

Despite his best efforts, this original idea was proving to be more of a “hobby” than a “business,” given the monthly income Maloney was generating from the idea, so he decided to take a risk. He quit his day job and partnered with his wife to double-down on an evolution of his original idea, making menus for all the restaurants available online. He gave himself a finite period of time to make this new idea work—or not—and his gamble turned out to be a good one. Once restaurants without online menus had them, they also needed a delivery service. It was at this point Maloney’s pitch to new client restaurants became, “Give me 10 cents for every $1 of business I bring your way”—and what was once a hobby has blossomed into 416,000 orders per day with more than 16.4 million active diners!

Maloney had no idea that his original plan would evolve into an online food delivery service, and, based on its current status, his company’s biggest and fastest growing sector is delivery, so who knows what the future will hold? He stressed the importance of being nimble and always having your eyes on a dashboard of sorts, so you can anticipate when and where issues may arise and have a plan of action to employ when they do.

In sharing his history and advice, Maloney provided these aspiring student social entrepreneurs with a great, practical real-life framework to consider as they begin work on their culminating projects for this semester. Each student must create and execute a pitch deck for an audience of local entrepreneurs at the annual Social Entrepreneurship Pitch Night on Thursday, January 24 at 5:30 p.m. in the Kovler Family Library. Proposed startups include:
  • A party drink cup that detects the date rape drug
  • A clothing website that lets the customer custom design their purchases
  • A pop-up weather-proof shelter (the “Homebrella”)
  • A food kit delivery service aimed toward Chicago's food deserts
  • An app that helps customers purchase end-of-day baked goods at discounted prices from various bakeries/stores
All are welcome to catch a glimpse of some of Parker’s rising entrepreneurial stars!
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.