EatMobile Inc.’s story began with an ice cream sandwich. A refrozen, unappetizing ice cream sandwich. Matt Land had heard the tantalizing music of a passing ice cream truck. He was lured by the thought of a sweet and refreshing treat. Instead, he was in for a letdown.
“I didn’t finish the whole thing,” he recalls.
Fortunately for Land, that wasn’t the end of the story. He shared the incident with long-time friend Jacob Lishen, a sales and marketing expert, and his mother Lori Townsend, who has experience in project management in the global restaurant chain industry. Together with Robb Vandaveer, a Marine Corps veteran and software architect, they started EatMobile.
They now have a network of some 50 food trucks in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota and Lakeland, and plan to beta test the new service. The trucks represent a wide variety of culinary tastes from barbecue to seafood, tacos to vegetarian, and pizza. “Literally, everything you can think of, it’s here in this area, and it’s amazing,” says Land, the company’s CEO.
The first food truck he consulted with during the research phase was Blazin 28 Pizza
. Dillon Walts operates his pizza food truck out of an old fire truck, where he’s built a wood-brick oven. He sells from a stand set up outside.
“Every truck is its own unique incredible business,” Land says.
EatMobile arranged some meals during Tampa Bay Startup Week
February 13-17. He also shared his company’s journey with attendees.
“Our core purpose… is increasing local spending to these local businesses,” explains Land.
Located in Tampa, EatMobile has become part of the tech accelerator Tamba Bay WaVE
. “It’s been incredible since we’ve been able to flip the switch,” Land says. “It really feels like it’s meant to be and there’s a path laid before us.”
Since that fateful day two years ago, when Land bought the ice cream sandwich, the team has done a lot of work researching and talking to consumers and clients. It officially launched with Startup Week after about seven months in operation.
EatMobile’s goal is to help people find food trucks for a quick bite in their area, or sign up food trucks for special events like weddings or company events. People can access services through their phones, tablets or computers. They are working on an app that can be downloaded.
Food trucks will have three levels of service through their online platform, including profiles, videos and imagery taken from drones or unmanned aircraft.
Land considers it an honor to provide a venue and business tools for families pursuing the American dream. In the past, they’ve been on their own. “They don’t have time for networking, hunting for catering opportunities,” he says.
Profits will come from multiple sources including food sales, vendor services, data services and advertising.
In the short term, EatMobile is connecting with technology experts to roll out its offerings into the market more quickly. It’s also looking for investors who share their goals.
“This is something that truly has the potential to do a lot of good,” he explains. “It’s not about us, it’s about them.”
is giving back through a monetary donation to Feeding Tampa Bay. It plans to expand into giving free meals to the homeless.
“We’re very passionate about giving back,” he says.