As the number of move-in boxes begins to dwindle and employees settle into EatStreet’s new office, Matt Howard, chief executive officer and co-founder of the Madison-based company looks back to the business’ origins.
It is not the first time the online food ordering company has furnished a new office, though the present location overlooking Lake Monona is surely more spacious than the 10-by-20-foot room from which Howard, along with his founding partners Eric Martell and Alex Wyler, used to conduct business.
While studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the three co-founders launched EatStreet, formerly known as BadgerBites, in 2010 as a response to an increase in the price of a similar food ordering service Howard had been using.
Recognizing the flaws in the existing service and determined to improve upon them in their own platform, Howard and his team set out to create a following in Madison. The company launched in 2010 and garnered about 100 partner restaurants and 9,000 UW-Madison users within the first year.
Months before Howard’s graduation in May 2011, the start-up team placed first in the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition in the Wisconsin School of Business, earning a free office space and $10,000. Shortly thereafter, they received their first investment of $150,000.
Today, EatStreet works with approximately 10,000 restaurants in about 40 cities nationwide. Additionally, the company employs about 80 people and signed a $6 million investment agreement in early April 2014.
Still, despite significant expansion and a name change, Howard said he would like to remain in Madison.
“I just think [Madison is] a beautiful city,” he said. “I fell in love with it and I have no intention of ever leaving.”
However, keeping EatStreet in Madison makes sense from a corporate interest perspective as well, Howard added.
“I’ve chosen to keep my company here because we can recruit really talented people,” he said. “I mean, UW is a great resource to recruit out of—our first 10 employees were all UW grads … it just makes sense to build the company here.”