Prize-winning idea aims to bring restaurant fare to campus
Like college students everywhere, Brooke Dominiak ’23 had a craving for pizza one night.
Two years later, that craving has morphed into a business start-up aimed at delivering food to hungry students who would rather the food come to them.
“I really wanted pizza, so I picked up the phone and ordered Domino’s from a food app,” said Dominiak.
“But then l got angry calls from my mother asking why she was paying $16 for pizza when she pays for (Furman’s) meal plan,” she added. “I thought there had to be another way to get food on campus.”
The result is To-Go Bros, a business that employs students to deliver food from vendors to other students who order on an app that Dominiak is designing.
“The drivers who deliver the food will be called Bros,” she said. “Our slogan is ‘Want food to go? Call a Bro.’”
Dominiak, 20, was a communication studies major when she created her own design-innovation major with the help of The Hill Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“Innovative and entrepreneurially minded students like Brooke are leveraging the platform and resources to act on their ideas,” said Anthony Herrera, Furman’s chief innovation officer and executive director of institute. “The Hill Institute is providing mentorship and coaching from over 50 Leadership Council members, education and training through our Business Innovation Accelerator, and funding and space awarded through the Paladin Pitch Competition. This is The Furman Advantage through the lens of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Dominiak was new to Furman when she ordered that fateful pizza.
She is planning to conduct a test-run of her idea in the fall with two restaurants. Students will pay a $3.99 delivery fee in the test, but she hopes that can be included in their meal plans in the future.
Dominiak also hopes to deliver from Furman’s food service vendor and other campus merchants, and eventually, to expand to colleges across the nation.
“My dream job is to have my own company as a design thinking consultant who works with companies … when they have big problems and come up with various solutions,” she said.
To fund the test run, she is using her $10,000 winnings from Furman’s Paladin Pitch Competition. She also recently won a $10,000 prize as the winner of the inaugural Southern Conference Entrepreneurship Challenge for her idea.
Alec Taylor ’75, a lawyer, corporate titan and Furman trustee, saw her at the Paladin Pitch Competition and was so impressed, he decided to become an investor.
“She was smart enough to see an opportunity there,” he said. “She’s a very bright young woman. She’s got star written all over her.”
Taylor helped her with some legal issues, like protecting her intellectual property and networking. He also gave her some business advice – such as to be persistent and always control more than 50 percent of your company.
“And stay optimistic,” he said. “Very few paths to success are paved with a straight line.”
Because she’s handling most aspects of the business herself, she says she’s able to apply what she’s learning in class to the project – everything from developing a marketing plan to making schedules and signing contracts.
“It’s been a lot, especially as a student. And sometimes it’s hard,” she said. “But it’s super fun … and it’s cool that it’s actually coming to life.”