What is "Spooning with"? Every other week, Spoon UBC collaborates with another student-run organization on campus to highlight the diversity and presence of other passionate food lovers. Because what's better than sharing our love for food than with our community? So, let's get spooning.  

This time, Spoon UBC met two passionate and ambitious entrepreneurs who founded their own student-led delivery service, uniquely named BLU. UBC students, Ian and Jaume, kickstarted what was once just a simple idea in their heads, to something tangible on bikes. From being told their plan wouldn't work to crashing into trucks, nothing stopped them from reaching their goal.

How did BLU start?

cake, pizza
Karina Kwok

Jaume: I’m from Barcelona and in Barcelona, there’s this huge delivery service culture and I was talking to Ian, “Ian, there’s nothing here [Vancouver]. People don’t delivery stuff”. There's DoorDash and JustEat, and all those. But, there’s nothing in UBC, those companies don’t even advertise in UBC because it’s far for them, right? And so, we [thought] “Why don’t we start something within UBC? Something that students run.”

Ian: And as students, we started to think “Okay, so what is it that students want– what do they need? What do they not have?” So, [we thought of] cars, right? Even though, there’s Car2Go and EvoShare. Then, food– we’re always hungry, right? We always want food. And the other thing is that, if I want food right now, you look at JustEat and you [have to] pay a $10 delivery fee, or something crazy, right? And you’ll end up waiting an hour and 15 minutes for your food. If we just restrict it to what’s around and what’s at the Nest, UBC Village, and Wesbrook, we could cut down delivery time to 20 or 15 minutes and get it delivered cheaper and faster.

Jaume: We also realized at a certain point, when it gets dark and rainy, people don’t want to walk out– they don’t want to take those trips right? So, why don’t we do it?

Ian: *laughs* Yeah, we’ll walk in the rain.

So, how exactly does BLU work?

beer, cake, coffee, tea
Karina Kwok

Ian: So basically, our whole platform is run on Facebook.

Jaume: Right now, it’s really bare and simple because we just started.

Ian: We’re on Facebook and we have a Facebook page. People like the page (or find us somehow), and there’s a button that says “Send us a message”. So what we want them [customers] to do, is to send us a message (with their order) and that will show up in our inbox. For example, they might say, “I want pizza from Mercante”, and we will accept their order with a reply saying we’ll get a BLU driver on it as soon as one is available. One of us will go and get the order, we’ll buy it for them, and then we’ll deliver it. Once we deliver it, we’ll message them through the app to say their delivery is here and they [customer] will come down to pick it up. They can pay through e-transfer or with cash.

How did you feel when you first came up with the idea?

Karina Kwok

Jaume: The first time we thought of the idea, we actually went to the Entrepreneur Centre and we met an Entrepreneur Residence. We said, “We have this idea of doing a delivery service for UBC”, and she replied, “Everybody’s thought of that idea, I haven’t heard of it, but for sure it has been done and it’s failed right?”here’s nothing running now. And we thought, “Okay, that’s great. But, we’re still going to do it”.

Ian: *chuckle* Yeah, but we were a little bit discouraged.

Jaume: If people have done it and they’ve failed, then there’s definitely a problem somewhere.

Ian: And she [Entrepreneur Residence] was just not having it.

Jaume: Yeah, she was just like “No.”

Ian: So then, one night we thought, “Screw it”. We’ll make the page, deliver this weekend, and it went okay! We got like 3 orders, I think. Just that alone, we were so jazzed about it. So once we actually started doing it, we just got momentum. We’re learning a lot.

Jaume: You still have to try, even if people fail.

Have you two come across any problems so far? 

Photo by Tim Graf | Unsplash

timgraf99 on unsplash

Ian: Our problem right now is that not many people know about it [BLU]. Another problem is that when the weather is really nice, people love to go out and walk, and go get their food.

Jaume: We’ll have weekends where it’s just rainy, and people don’t want to go outside. When it’s a little warm, people will take the walk to the Village and they’ll use us less. But I guess that’s solved with more people knowing about you and needing the service. We’ve been up for a month and a half, maybe two months? We have around 300 likes and we’ve barely been advertising. We’ve put up 10 posters or something– we definitely have to do a lot more advertising.

Ian: But we’re also kind of hesitant to advertise because if it–

Jaume: If it explodes

Ian: Yeah, or even if we get just a few more orders, it’s a little overwhelming. So we’re trying to take it easy into this next period, but I think we’re ready to take that next step. If we get too many orders, and if we’re providing a bad service, then we’re not hitting our time requirements and not delivering in the amount of time that we said we would deliver. That’s not good business, right? So we’re trying to make sure we’re always consistent, always providing a good service, but also that we’re not overwhelmed.

How do you balance your time schedules?

pizza, tea, gastronomy, coffee
Karina Kwok

Jaume: We’ve only been trying to do BLU during Friday and Saturday nights, and sometimes we alternate and try to do it during the weekdays, just to see how people react to that. 

Ian: But most of the time, we’re delivering on the weekends.

Jaume: So, we do try to get work done before. But, we have been missing all the parties and not going to people’s birthdays, because we’re out delivering. We try to do Friday and Saturday around 6-8pm or 7-9pm, but it changes.

Ian: We’re still doing market research through the Facebook page, which is opening it at a time and see how people respond.

Jaume: We’re just trying to figure out when people need what they need. We’ve figured [out] it’s around 6-8pm on Friday and Saturday, also throughout the week as well. But, we’ve been trying to manage our own lives too.

What’s your vision for BLU in the future?

Photo by Manki Kim | Unsplash

kimdonkey on unsplash

Ian: So our actual goal is to have crowd-source delivery. So, say you’re going to the Spoon office (for example, in Buchanan) and someone from the Spoon Office wants pizza from the Nest. You open the app, and you see there’s an order, and since you’re at the Nest anyways, you can take the order. They’ll get their food and you make some money.

Jaume: Although, there are a lot of problems with that. You need a lot of people to know about it and be willing to do it. Would you be willing to deliver something from the Nest to the Spoon office for $4? That's the question which will cause people to be hesitant.

Ian: That's where you need your market to be big enough to support crowd-sourcing.

Jaume: And the thing is, this idea has been tried out by others already, but what differentiates us is that we're at a university. It's a close base, people know where everything is, it's within walking distance, and people are willing to cover these spaces within a certain amount of time.

Ian: When I first came to orientation there were a couple of things where I was like, "Oh you have to try this", and things like, "Oh you don't have the Dominos delivery app? What're you doing?" I want people to be like, "You don't have BLU yet?" I think that would be really cool. 

Jaume: In the near future, we want BLU to be a delivery service that UBC uses. It doesn't have to just be students, it could be profs sending papers to other profs at some other part of the campus. 

So, why is the name BLU?

Ian: The million dollar question.

Jaume: It's a pretty silly story. I was sitting with my brother back home and asked him, "Yo, what should I call it?", and he has a friend called Blu and he just said, "Why don't you just call it BLU?" And I was like, "You know what I'm going to go with BLU", and that was it. It doesn't make any sense. But it works, and it's catchy!

Has your bike ever broken during delivery?

Photo by Chris Becker | Unsplash

chrisbecker on unsplash

Ian: I got hit by a vehicle.

Jaume: *laughs*

Ian: Yeah, I got hit by a truck next to McDonalds.

Jaume: That was not [that] bad.

Ian: It was!

Jaume: You didn't get hit.

Ian: I did! I got steered off. I was coming from McDonalds from the Village, and there's that merge lane? So a truck was driving down and I was merging in with only one hand on the bike, because I was holding a cup and I didn't want to spill it. I waited for the truck to go first but it didn't and it stopped, so I started to bike and tried to squeeze next to it, but ended up hitting the rim. 

Jaume: I fell a bit on ice one time, actually I fell twice. Thankfully, I wasn't carrying anything on me. 

What happens if you drop the food? Has that ever happened?


syjabudu on Flickr

Jaume: Yeah, it's happened once. 

Ian: It was our second delivery. I exploded a drink. It was the same accident I mentioned before, and so after being hit I was like, "Screw this" and I put the drink on the back of the bike. When I was biking, there was a bump and the drink hit it. When I looked back, the drink was just spilt everywhere. 

Jaume: We just gave the customer free delivery. We apologized and she understood. 

Ian: But now we have bags, so that makes things a lot easier. We don't really encounter any dropped food spillages. 

Is there anything you would like Spoonies to know about?

Jaume: Nothing much, just if you could check us out and order from us whenever you are hungry. Oh, what did you [Ian] say about Spoon and us?

Ian: Oh, yeah, yeah! I had this really good catchphrase. I said, "Spoon makes students hungry, and we keep them fed".

It was super cool to get a sneak peek at the behind-the-scenes of BLU, and to get to know Ian and Jaume. Be sure to follow BLU and send them some Spoon love!