WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA KURIAN SEPT 12, 2016
Cosmic Delivery, an online food-serving platform, officially began its deliveries four months ago. Cosmic Delivery is collaborating with 13 different restaurants, mainly centered around Downtown, Athens.Some of the restaurants include Zombie Coffee & Donuts, A-OK Cafe, 180 Degree Cafe, and Pita Pit.
Trent Walls, a fourth year University of Georgia student majoring in Computer Science and Engineering, is the founder of Cosmic Delivery. Walls originally had the idea to serve fresh food to customers placing orders online in early January of this year.
Walls has been creating his own self-employed businesses since as early as middle school. He ran two business websites, however, they did not collect revenue; one was an eCommerce website, and the other was a game sharing site. Then later as a high school senior, he opened an eCommerce store, which he closed last year.
“Once I got into college, (the eCommerce store) kind of stopped growing just because I didn’t put enough time into it. I didn’t have that support team with me as far as other founders do to encourage me to keep growing it, so that kind of stagnated,” Walls said. “I shut that down when I started Cosmic Delivery. I believe in one track minded. I don’t want to split my time with too many different business ideas.”
“I think the biggest resource I had with this would be the student organization, which would be IEEE ACM. There’s just so many people working together (there) that are aspiring to do something. It’s always been a useful tool,” Walls said. “If I have a technical kind of question, I can just ask them or just if I need some help. If I want to bring on a partner or something, that’s usually a pretty good resource for finding someone to work with.”
Early on in the process, Walls met with some friends, where they tossed around a couple business ideas, debating on what would be the most beneficial for both the society and for themselves.
“I think we had like grocery delivery, expanding the eCommerce store into more school supplies type stuff, and the food delivery,” Walls said. “We just kind of ran through each of those types, looked through how likely it would be to succeed, and food delivery was the one that stood out, so we kind of ran with it from there.”
In order to make this idea a reality, they needed to find willing restaurants. Athens Wok was the first restaurant that began collaborating with Walls on his food delivery business.
“It’s basically just been continuously talking to restaurant owners. You’re going to get a few that say yes, and go out on a limb and try (it out).” Walls said. “Once you get to five restaurants, it’s going to be easier for you. (It’s) basically been a slow and painful process to build that reputation, there’s no easy magic.”
Building Cosmic Delivery’s brand was no easy task.
“Building your brand image and convincing your restaurant owners that you are a reputable company that they can work with (is the hardest part,)” Walls said. “The biggest problem when going out and expanding our restaurant base is where new business and restaurants don’t necessarily want to risk their customers with a new service, so just trying to built up our reputation has probably been the biggest challenge right now.”
Being involved with UGA, especially through the UGA Accelerator, has helped Walls tremendously in the process of developing his business.
“Everyone in the (Accelerator) program has their own business ideas. They run you through different things, like how to do customer discovery, financial literacy, and then talking to investors. Kind of the biggest thing you do in that is customer delivery, finding out who your customers are and determining if your business idea actually has attraction. That’s something that really helped us when we were talking to restaurants and stuff, learning how to discover what their needs are,” Walls said. “Another thing in addition to the customer discovery that we gained was just being able to meet other business owners and stuff. Most people are a lot more willingly to talk to you if you are a (UGA) student. Those things combined are extremely beneficial.”
Eventually, Walls hopes to deepen Cosmic Delivery’s breadth.
“We’re mainly just trying to expand within the Athens market, so just more restaurants, getting more customers,” said Wells. “If things go well, we might expand beyond that in the future, but right now, the main focus is on Athens.”