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The Self-Made Man: Matt Maloney and Mike Evans

Like many people my age, I used to have anxiety about ordering pizza over the phone. It makes me sound like a total ninny, and I’m sure my Great Depression-surviving grandfather is in Heaven rolling his eyes at me right now, but it’s true. Just try passing the phone around the next time you and your friends order delivery; it’s not just me.

grubhub2Luckily, GrubHub removes most of that anxiety by curating a list of delivery places near my address and facilitating my orders, so now I can eat like crap without running afoul of my embarrassing social problems. But who came up with GrubHub, and how can I express my undying gratitude to that person or those people?

It turns out that the creators of GrubHub are Matt Maloney and Mike Evans, who are also this week’s Self Made Men.
Matt and Mike both got computer science degrees—Matt went to the University of Chicago for his Master’s and Mike is an MIT graduate—and became friends when they both worked for the Chicago-based Classified Ventures as software engineers. Their main project was Apartments.com, which I’ve definitely used before, and it involved a lot of late nights full of cheap delivery food.

“We were…sick of ordering the same pizza all the time,” Matt told Business Insider, adding that “it’s kind of funny that it really was hunger that inspired [GrubHub].” And indeed, they were tired of hitting up the same delivery places all the time. They both thought it would be cool if there was an online service listing of local restaurants, and were a bit dumbfounded when they couldn’t find one.

So they made one.

GrubHub started in 2004 as a quick directory site for neighborhood restaurants that was limited to the Chicago area, and Matt and Mike financed the project themselves. That was rough going at first; Evans quit his job to focus on GrubHub full-time, and went from making pretty serious cheese as a senior developer to making about $140 a month.

Plus, they had to hire people, which meant leaning heavily on Craigslist as a talent pool when they ran into things they couldn’t do (namely graphics). This led to problems securing enough office space for the amount of employees they needed to bring in.

But despite all that, they persevered and dealt with all their logistical problems the old-fashioned way: hard work and long hours. By 2007, they’d gained enough momentum to attract venture capital, and now they’re at the top of their game.

Here’s a video in which both Matt Maloney and Mike Evans explain how GrubHub grew, and how they grew with it. While you’re watching this, I’m going to shove more pizza into my face.

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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.

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