Julien Vogel (l.) and Oskar Latussek, business administration students at the University of Mannheim and founders of GoMeal Photo credit: Laura Margara

Lunch to fight the crisis

Business Administration students of the University of Mannheim develop an online food ordering ordering app to help local restaurants overcome the economic crisis

Finding lunch often hasn’t been easy during the pandemic – many restaurants and company canteens were closed and people working from home often didn’t have the time to prepare a healthy meal themselves. Many restaurants, especially in the Quadrate, depend on walk-in customers and lunch meals and got into economic difficulties that are difficult to emerge from even after re-opening. Two business administration students of the University of Mannheim want to support the weakened gastronomy in Mannheim with a new app and distributelunch meals in a targeted manner. In our interview, they tell us how they got the idea and how the app works.

Please introduce yourselves:

We are Julien Vogel (22) and Oskar Latussek (21) and are studying Business Administration in the sixth semester at the University of Mannheim. We both live in Mannheim and we met during the first semester of our bachelor studies and have been good friends ever since.

How did you get the idea of your online food ordering app “GoMeal”?

Since school, we have been passionate for the topic of startups and for the enormous societal progress and value those drivers of innovation bring. It has been clear to us early on that our company should serve a societal purpose. When, apart from restaurants, also canteens and cafeterias had to close and the corona measures didn’t achieve the desired results, we didn’t recognize only a serious economic problem in this precarious situation, but also the potential for the gastronomy here in Mannheim: On the one hand, there were dozens, especially smaller gastronomic outlets whose business and occupancy rate were more unstable than ever considering the unchanging fixed costs. On the other hand, there were hundreds of people who in pre-pandemic times went to the canteen or to the city center to eat out every day and who now had to cook their lunch meals themselves. But what if it was possible to connect both sides through a tailor-made solution? It was clear that for an ideally daily utilization, factors such as time and budget would play important roles. Therefore, we decided to offer a cheap and time-efficient alternative to canteen or self-cooked food to students, apprentices and professionals in Mannheim and to contribute to helping the local gastronomy overcome the corona crisis at the same time. This aimed at giving participating restaurants above all one thing: security within maximum efficiency. “GoMeal” was launched on 1 July 2021.

How does “GoMeal” work?

Nine Mannheim restaurants take part and each offer a pick-up lunch each day. From pasta to sushi to Greek cuisine, everything is there. Users can subscribe to a freely selectable number of lunch meals each week and can pick them up at our partner restaurants in the Quadrate. Users benefit from a price only slightly above or even on canteen level and save not only money during their lunch break, but also time, as the meals are always prepared in time for the desired pick-up hour. We additionally simplify the decision process through a customized offer of selected meals. Accordingly, this results in an assured number of sold meals for our restaurant partners, new customers gained and a strengthened customer retainment through the subscription model. The goal is to cover the very high fixed costs in gastronomy as far as possible, while our concept achieves an enormous increase in efficiency for the lunch business of our partners. A win-win for both sides!

How did the development of the app go?  

We developed the app completely by ourselves, which is why apart from the usual costs of foundation, we didn’t have any additional financial costs. The focus was primarily on maximum user-friendliness and an easy, quick and clear handling, for example through functions such as integrated payment and push notifications to remind you of the pick-up time.

Were you able make use of the knowledge you gained in your bachelor studies when founding??

On a technical level, skills from our studies that were helpful for the foundation stemmed from the areas marketing, cost accounting and tax law. Much more important, however, was the gained ability to construct complex problems in a sensible way and to solve them efficiently. Other soft skills developed thanks to the university such as time management were and still are highly important to us in order to be able to build up GoMeal besides studies and internships. Furthermore, we had the opportunity to talk to business administration professors, such as our tax professor Dr. Spengel or Prof. Dr. Georg Bitter from the Department of Law, and to ask them detailed technical questions.

We hope that continuity and safer framework conditions will now set in for the gastronomy and that we, together with the residents of Mannheim, can contribute our part to that.

More about the app: