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Aaron Hoffman, left, and John Zinno, founders of Campus Delivery, pose for a portrait in Zinno's home on April 5, 2016. 

Three years after founding business, Campus Delivery founders seek expansion, investors

Cofounder Aaron Hoffman said he sees the service growing into a multi-million dollar business.

The idea for Campus Delivery came to cofounders Aaron Hoffman and John Zinno on a cold November day.

“We were walking to Shively Dining Hall,” Hoffman, a senior studying finance and real estate, said. “It was November. It was very cold outside. … We had the idea that we should start this delivery business where we could deliver food to students. And we thought, ‘why not just deliver anything?' "

The two made a Twitter account for the idea. Within 24 hours, they had over 2,000 followers, they said.

Zinno, a senior studying entrepreneurship principles and real estate, and Hoffman started the business with $60. They took orders and delivered food to students themselves on bikes.

When the business took off, their parents cautioned them to focus on their studies. Neither of them were studying business at the time.

“We’d had no business experience before,” Hoffman said. “We had no idea what we were doing. … It was just a big shitshow.”

That was three years ago. Now, Campus Delivery delivers food from any campus-area location at OU, Kent State University, Miami University and the University of Georgia. The cofounders are seeking to expand to more campuses across the country and hope to develop an app.

“We see this growing into a multimillion-dollar company within a few years,” Hoffman said.

Campus Delivery makes the two founders “several hundred bucks a week,” Hoffman said. The two have earned enough money through the business to cover college, including tuition, food and gas money, they said.

Hoffman and Zinno come from the same high school, Jackson High School in Massillon. They had classes together and played on the same baseball team.

The two have never been roommates, and that has saved them, Hoffman said. They often fight over work.

“That means things are going well,” Hoffman said.

Zinno agreed.

“A nice solid fight,” he said. “It just gets it over with, and you’re good.”

Hoffman and Zinno still do deliveries themselves, but today they have about 25 other drivers working for them, as well. About two or three drivers work every evening, Hoffman said. Depending on how many orders drivers take, some have made up to $30 in an hour.

Right now, the two are trying to get funding for an app they want to develop. The app would cost tens of thousands of dollars, they said.

“If we get this app, we could pretty much take over the campus delivery market, at least for college students because we have a business model that works,” Hoffman said. “We’re slowly perfecting the process.”

The app would be similar to the transportation app Uber. The two want the app to include a couple changes to the service, such as not allowing customers to place an order unless a driver was available.

Hoffman and Zinno are pitching their app idea to receive a grant this month, they said. Regardless of whether they get the grant, Hoffman and Zinno plan to travel from campus to campus next year to expand the service. If they don’t get the grant, they may seek out other investors. People have offered to invest in their business in the past.

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“We’ve had tons of interest,” Hoffman said. “We haven’t really needed it so far. But now we do.”

The two have been working on a “proprietary algorithm” that scores 13 factors and assigns each school a score. If a school scores higher than OU — and hundreds do, they said — it’s a good sign Campus Delivery would do well there. Hoffman and Zinno didn't disclose the schools they’re looking at or the 13 factors their algorithm weighs.

“That’s a secret sauce,” Hoffman said.

For now, the two have been balancing work and class, something they both said is easier senior year because their classes tend to line up with what they’re doing with their business. They remain optimistic about their futures.

“We just tend to figure things out,” Zinno said. “Things just generally work out for us."


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