By: Eric Elliot
The Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series continues with a Young Founders Panel on Tuesday, February 13 from 5:00-6:45 p.m. Panelists Ali von Paris ’12, Evan Lutz ’14 and Brandon and Bradley Deyo are all successful entrepreneurs who started their businesses as students. In a panel moderated by Robert Hisaoka, students, staff, faculty and alumni will hear about the experiences and challenges each founder faced while turning their dorm room startups into lucrative businesses. Register now to attend, and stay tuned to our blog to learn more about each of the panelists.
Hungry Harvest – Evan Lutz ’14
Evan wanted to be a social entrepreneur ever since he was little. Particularly, he wanted to do something about the inefficient food system of this country. Every year, 40% of food produced goes to waste due to superficial abnormalities; at the same time, 20% of the U.S. lacks access to a nutritious diet. Wanting to do something about this, Evan Lutz started Hungry Harvest in the basement of his dorm room during his senior year at the University of Maryland with the goal of reducing food waste and eliminating hunger. Hungry Harvest purchases surplus ‘ugly produce’ that would have gone to waste from farmers and wholesalers and then distributes them to weekly subscribers. For every box they deliver to a customer, they donate a healthy meal to someone in need.
Initially, Evan struggled to generate interest in his idea as most people didn’t know or understand what ‘ugly produce’ was. In June 2014, Evan started delivering to his first 30 customers—15 of which were free trials—and found himself working 18 hour days to satisfy the few orders that he had. Customers and investors alike criticized his idea, and Hungry Harvest was in danger of failing multiple times when they had less than $200 in their bank account. However, it was on June 17, 2015, that Evan received vindication for all his hard work when he appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and struck a $100,000 deal with investor Robert Herjavec who offered his business intellect and know-how to help Evan achieve his dream.
With Herjavec’s backing and mentorship, Evan has grown Hungry Harvest by leaps and bounds. In just three years, Hungry Harvest prevented more than 5 million pounds of food from going to waste in landfills and provided over 700,000 pounds of food to people in need. Hungry Harvest is currently located in City Garage, Baltimore, and has a team of roughly 20 people. Evan has been recognized for his accomplishments by Forbes 30 Under 30 in social entrepreneurship, Baltimore’s 40 Under 40 and Montgomery County’s Emerging Business of the Year Award, and he has even given a TED Talk on how to solve world hunger. With Hungry Harvest, Evan is firmly committed to his dream and belief that “every person has the right to eat healthy and every fruit and veggie grown deserves to be eaten”.
Interested in learning more about Evan’s journey? Listen to his interview with Elana Fine and Joe Bailey on episode 8 of the Dingman Center’s Bootstrapped podcast: Taking a Startup from the Dorm Room to Shark Tank