MEALMATCH Arnav/Cameron interview

Dingy startups in gloomy two-room offices. Small companies with too little overhead, too few employees, too much overtime, and too overwhelmingly consumerist, commercial aspirations to pluck at anyone’s heartstrings or make a vision for staying longer than it takes to pay off your car. It’s the world of new business that makes the oversowed field of venture capitalism the shiny thing to behold… but, in far larger part, a disagreeably failure-ridden system that disappoints, if not immediately scares away, its newest inductees. 
Arnav Machavarapu and Cameron Meyer met in 2019, in a presciently pre-quarantine fashion, virtually, through a summer entrepreneurship program for high school students called Launchy. This past Fall, they attended Knovva Academy’s first Virtual Model G20 Summit: Imagining a Post-Pandemic World. 
Though a distance of several thousand miles separates the two pre-college-ites — Cameron in the venture capital of the Bay Area, and Arnav in the quickly gaining hipster haven of indie innovation, Austin, Texas — the two young men saw the grist under the glitter of their two cities: behind the food trucks and beer gardens, a pandemic of food insecurity among its denizens that’s being addressed primarily through red tape-laden soup lines and large gatherings that, mid-lockdown, are near unsupportable.
Their bionic baby, MealMatch, is growing up into a full-fledged philanthropic powerhouse that connects donors and their surplus food with an easy network around their city to respond to requests for real nourishment — not just the old can of garbanzo beans at the back of the pantry. 
The following interview took place on December 16, 2020, under the glow of the impending Christmas break and after the haze of a week of exams for the two students. How are these guys feeding whole municipalities, how are they working to bring the service to larger and even more needy areas, and how are they doing it so young?

Justine Hudock: Describe your app to me, what does it do? What are your favorite features behind it? 
Cameron Meyer: Sure. So essentially, what our app does is it connects people in need of food to other people organization restaurants that can essentially provide for free. What we do is we collect, we connect people based on location. And essentially, what we’ve done has kind of made it easy for donors, people wanting to give away food for free to kind of post their donations in a style. That’s kind of social media-like. So it’s easy for people to kind of see available donations in their area if they’re looking for food. And it’s the same, you know, in reverse, essentially, the donors, or the requesters, the people looking for food can easily find donors by pinging specific organizations or groups that are offering food in the area, or by just looking at the public donations that have been made. Also, we have kind of like a leaderboard feature, which I, you know, I think is kind of cool. Our developers have made that and essentially, it kind of fosters this. Not necessarily gamifying donations, but making it more fun to help the community and compete with your friends or family or kind of work together to make an impact. 
Arnav Machavarapu: So what I’m probably one of my favorite features about the app is the location API that our developers manage to add, to sort of help donors or requesters put in their location to sort of limit their donor or requester pool to that specific area. I think it’s a really cool way to help make the whole process more efficient. And how both are the size of users out.

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