Zero Percent is an online food donation marketplace that helps businesses move surplus, edible food to nearby soup kitchens and shelters, reducing both hunger and waste. They were part of our second accelerator class in 2014. Zero Percent recently launched SnackPass, an app that provides delicious, nutritious snacks from a variety of local restaurants. We recently caught up with Rajesh Karmani, CEO and Founder, to learn more about SnackPass and the future of the company.
Tell us the story behind Zero Percent.
In 2012, I was a graduate student in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I frequently visited a bagel shop between my home and my grad school office, where they baked everything fresh each morning. I learned that the shop could never perfectly predict how much food they would sell each day and always ended up with excess bagels. The shop owner Marc wanted to donate the extra food to a local nonprofit, but it was difficult for him to find out which nonprofit would need the food and how he could deliver it. I knew that technology marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist could effectively match supply and demand, so I thought, “Why wasn’t there an online food donation marketplace?” During a hackathon event hosted by the UIUC computer science department, I created Zero Percent.
What are some of the challenges you face building a food tech business and how have you overcome them?
The first big challenge was to understand the variables involved in matching excess food with a need in the community. Secondly, we needed to figure out how to rescue food in a large city like […]