Local Entrepreneurs Celebrate the Launch of Their Food Truck App with a Festival
Walter and Ellen Gugenberger
Thanks to a New Orleans couple, savoring a meal from your favorite local food truck only requires a few taps on your smart phone, and a short commute.
“No longer will customers have to wander in search of food trucks or wait in long lines for their orders,” says Walter Gugenberger, the co-founder & CEO of NOMAD – a ‘Made to Order’ food truck app. “NOMAD helps them save time and enjoy greater access to the diverse and delicious choices food trucks provide.”
Here's how it works: The food truck owners create an account with NOMAD and add their menu items. Once they activate the app, their location is sent to a server. Customers can use the app to find the nearest food truck, order and pay for their meal. They receive a notification when their food is ready, and they skip the line when they pick it up.
People can try the app on Friday evening, during NOMAD's Food Truck Fest.
Walter Gugenberger, a native of Wels, Austria, is also the owner of New Orleans-based Flow Digital, a software development company. His wife Ellen, who is originally from Baton Rouge, is NOMAD’s co-founder and president, and the owner of The Lafayette Company – a full-service communications firm based in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans.
Ellen came up with the idea for NOMAD while living in Washington, D.C.
“Food trucks are a huge part of the culture in D.C.,” she said. “There are hundreds and hundreds of food trucks. But the problem is that they take a really long time to order from, and in D.C., you don't have a lot of time to sit and wait in line.”
After the couple moved to New Orleans, they collaborated with three Louisiana-based partners and researched the national food truck industry. They discovered that in 2017, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the food truck industry earned record revenues of $2.7 billion, but nationwide food trucks had problems developing and maintaining a consistent customer base.
The Gugenbergers then began developing NOMAD. They also reached out to friends and family and raised $110,000 in seed money in less than a month.
“The food trucks here have been very receptive to it,” said Ellen. “There are not as many food trucks here as people would anticipate, given the culinary heritage of the city, but it is a very strong, tight-knit group, and they've been eager to use technology to expand their consumer base … folks that we've worked with have been really great and eager to try something different, which has been a wonderful surprise.”
NOMAD is available for immediate download on both the Apple Store and Google Play, serving both iPhone and Android customers in New Orleans.
To celebrate the launch of NOMAD, the Gugenbergers will host the “Food Truck Round-Up” on Friday, Nov. 2, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Champions Square. Admission is free.
The party will feature live music, games, beverages, and bites from up to ten food trucks. Attendees are encouraged to order from the NOMAD app, so they can see first-hand how it works.
Participating food trucks include Frencheeze, Burgers Ya Heard!, Diva Dawg, South in Ya Mouth, Afrodisiac, Sauce Boss, Tangeriné Kitchen – a vegan truck, New Orleans Style Cooking, and La Cocinita.
NOMAD is the first business collaboration between Ellen and Walter.
“We come from two totally different professional areas, so we each had to fill a different role with the company,” said Ellen. “We’ve both had the opportunity to learn from each other in this process. I’ve learned a great deal about software development, and he's learned about putting on a large-scale event, public relations, and the things that go into the marketing and administration of a company.”
After NOMAD is established in New Orleans, the Gugenbergers will introduce their app to the Baton Rouge business and consumer market.
They’ll also team up with private investors and venture capital firms “to fully capitalize, so that (they) can move nationwide,” said Ellen.
Since the business team has surveyed food truck owners and their client base, and researched food regulations across the U.S., the entrepreneurs have pinpointed the best future locations for their venture.
“Our goal is to work with trucks across the state of Louisiana by the end of the year, and then move westward to Texas in the Spring of 2019, and then nationwide after that,” Ellen explained. “We're lucky to have connections all over the country.”
By Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur, Biz New Orleans associate news editor
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