Questrom Business School of Boston University
Founding Student Name(s): Diran Shahrik
Brief Description of Solution: Savor is a mobile web application that takes in a user’s dietary preferences, family size, and weekly grocery budget in order to formulate a meal plan and accompanying grocery list. The purpose of the application is to maximize each ingredient the user purchases through overlapping ingredients in recipes, aiding in reducing food waste and maximizing family budget.
What led you to launch this venture? I came to Boston University with a desire to make a change and impact. I wanted to maximize any and every opportunity I could get my hands on, which brought me to the Build Lab. My first day on campus as a freshman, I immediately joined the Innovation Pathway and began my journey with Savor.
What led me to launch this venture trailed back to my freshman year was when my aunt, Lillian Mahrokhian, was baking a coconut cake for a family gathering. She purchased an entire container of coconut flakes but only used 1/3rd of the flakes for the cake. When I asked her what she would do with the remaining flakes, she just assumed she would throw them away, given she had no means of using them after baking the cake. This immediately struck the idea for Savor and how we can maximize the utilization of our ingredients. I also had an inherent desire to disrupt human behavior when it relates to food usage. I find we, as the human race, grow nonchalant when it comes to throwing away food. However, what we seem to forget is that it’s not simply just the food that we are wasting. The land that the food is grown on, the methane gas released from producing the food, and the water utilized to create food product is all wasted when we throw away food. I wanted to disrupt this pattern of food waste and make a serious worldwide impact.
Just as I began to pick up momentum with the project, the pandemic hit. Time stopped for the first time in our course of history. Initially, I was discouraged by this, assuming it would halt all of my progress with Savor. However, after a long philosophical conversation with my cousin, Shant Mahrokhian, regarding time, things changed. We talked about how time is, at its truest core, a one-way currency, and how valuable each minute we have on this earth, and rather than viewing the pandemic as a challenge, view it as an opportunity. This catapulted Savor’s progress, and led me to continue pushing forward, receiving a grant from the Investor’s Panel hosted by the Build Lab, during the height of the pandemic.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with your venture? My biggest accomplishments with this venture thus far revolve around my involvement with both the Innovation Pathway and BU Spark.
Starting with the Innovation Pathway, I reached the Walk Stage and pitched my project to an Investor’s Panel, and successfully received a $1,000 grant in support of the project. In regards to BU Spark, I pitched Savor for three semesters in a row in order to receive a graduate level computer engineering team to code the mobile web application and successfully received teams all three semesters.
How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? In regards to how my business-related major has aided me further in creating this project, it all ties to team building practices and working with a variety of personalities. Working with three different computer engineering teams was definitely a challenge. However, with all the practice gained from team project-based work in Questrom, I felt extremely prepared.
Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? The Dynamics of Leading Organizations (MO221) was a key class that was crucial in developing Savor. MO221 revolved around team-building and working with other people, which was very important for me in my educational journey when learning how to work with different people. Managing multiple personalities, while sustaining a high level of motivation and morale, were key lessons I learned in MO221 and I have utilized these lessons with my own project. I have specifically utilized these lessons when working with a multitude of graduate level computer engineers that were assigned to me by BU Spark.
What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Professor Ian Mashiter was crucial in Savor’s development and growth in regards to aiding in a technical specification concept, as well as an overall slide deck for Savor. He was also a great reference for questions I had regarding consumer surveys, and additionally aided in preparation for my Investor’s Panel pitch.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Although the late Kobe Bryant was known for his remarkable basketball career, I was deeply inspired by his career, post-athletics. When Bryant retired from basketball, the general population would assume his desire and motivation to achieve were retired as well. I have found that in present society we are all placed inside this box of expectations and capabilities of what we are “supposed” to amount to but Bryant broke through every box that was placed upon him. Following his basketball career, he went on to have a multitude of successful ventures, including a series of novels, an Oscar-winning short film, and a solidified partnership with Body Armor, where he became the face of the brand.
This ties to the concept of only having one life and how time is a one -way currency. Bryant could have rode off into the sunset and grown comfortable post-basketball, but he maximized every single day and tapped into his creative and entrepreneurial nature. I myself have been extremely inspired by that. Along with majoring in Finance at Questrom, and working on a food waste startup, I am also a screenplay writer and my last short film, “Picking Daisies” was nominated for “Best Drama” at the 2021 HBO Latino Film Festival and won “Best Edited” film.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? My long-term goal and vision for Savor is absolutely to disrupt the human tendency of throwing away food and to significantly reduce food waste. As other resources are wasted. According to the Food and Drug Admin, 30–40 percent of the food supply is wasted and that corresponds to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food wasted. In regards to water, 1.3 billion tons of food per year would equate to 45 trillions of gallons of water wasted. These are just a few examples of why saving food is vital to preserving a healthy, global environment. Savor currently has a database with over 50 recipes with all overlapping ingredients in order to maximize ingredient use. My next steps for the project are to wrap up technical development this current year, and release the product to the public via the App Store in order to test the functionality of the product and measure the impact Savor has.
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