Byppo Technologies founder Victoria Liu is trying to keep the human connection in delivery. Her company recently secured a food delivery contract with the University of Florida partially because it has humans doing the delivery.
Started in 2019, Byppo is a food ordering software company in Gainesville, Florida, with national aspirations. Originally, Liu had envisioned Byppo as a food app at stadiums. The idea was for people to order food from the concession stands and get the food delivered to their seats.
“I was still developing the app when COVID hit, and suddenly sporting events and everything got canceled,” Liu said. “I couldn’t just launch the platform as I originally planned to. Then I noticed that I had developed a software platform that I could use and help the local restaurants and the community with them.”
She already had connections with the food community in Gainesville. Liu runs an Instagram page with 14,000 followers that documents the local food scene. Liu knew many of the people within the restaurant community, and they were looking to add online ordering and delivery quickly when the pandemic started.
Testing and updating
Liu and her team began updating and modifying the app to work at restaurants. She also knew that restaurants were looking for alternatives to the high fees charged by national third-party marketplaces. The restaurants were struggling, and she wanted to help.
“So I did offer my platform during a pandemic completely free to help them out,” Liu said. “It also really helped me, because it was an opportunity for me to test out my platform more. We worked out some problems that were showing up in the very beginning, but as they started using it more and more and the community started supporting us because we were supporting them. The app became bug-free within a few months. And it just kind of grew from there. We had so many people reaching out to us and seeing if they can get our platform.”
The platform allows customers to order through a restaurant’s website. The food can be designated for pickup or delivery. The company is planning to build a delivery operation, but right now the platform lets restaurants do their own delivery.
“They can actually make money off of delivery orders because they can set their own delivery prices,” Liu said.
Her vision is based on customer service and hospitality. She has no interest in being a major delivery marketplace. She wants to work with small restaurant groups and individual restaurants, and allow them to make online ordering profitable. Liu said she knows her customers and talks with most of them on a weekly basis. It is the human touch that sets her apart.
Expanding to the university
One day, Liu was driving near the University of Florida, and she noticed how deserted the campus looked. Classes were being done virtually during the pandemic and only a few students were out on university grounds. She knew students would return in the fall, and Liu wanted to find a way to help. Liu thought a delivery service for university food had potential. She assumed delivery could be a way for students to reconnect with the university.
Liu was able to get in touch with representatives at Gator Dining Service at the University of Florida, the student dining service run by Aramark. The university was looking at options for food delivery. Some, like the University of Denver, have opted for robot delivery, but the University of Florida wanted a more human touch. A plan was developed, and in the fall, students will be delivering university food to their peers on campus.
“With students bringing food delivery to other students, we’re emphasizing the experience,” Liu said. “We want to make sure students can meet other students on campus or potentially meet a professor that they would have never met, through the app.”
She added, “Robots can work well in some areas; it just didn’t work (at the university).”
The company is testing the platform and plans to begin limited delivery in the fall, possibly a lunch menu. The availability and menu will grow as students use the system more. By spring, Liu hopes the service will be available across the entire campus.
“The way we envision it, it just becomes a part of campus life,” said Timothy Bucolo, Gator Dining’s director. “As we continue to grow the program throughout the fall semester, you’re going to see more and more locations added to the platform.”
Liu said she could see campus delivery as a niche for the company. They are talking to other universities and are looking to see if other opportunities exist. Robot delivery is at the early stages in food delivery, and Liu is convinced that the human connection is something unique her company can offer.
“We’re opening our business nationally,” Liu said. “So, any campuses or anyplace that reaches out to us, we’re considering, because, with technology, we’re not really limited. That’s just a difference in working with the software. It’s very scalable.”