Announcing the Genesis Investment in Picko

On behalf of the Genesis Program, I would like to announce our recent investment in Picko. Picko wants to make any restaurant as accessible to college campuses as those within walking distance.

The Problem

Food delivery services are an increasingly popular option for many college students. The high costs and variability in timing, however, serve as significant deterrents to greater adoption. Existing food delivery services process each order independently, forcing individual customers to foot the full cost of delivery. Factoring in delivery charge and tip, the cost of using these services often becomes impractical when final costs amount to double the price of the food items. Furthermore, the unpredictable timing typically associated with the usage of food delivery adds yet another obstacle to frequent use.

Picko will leverage its lockers on college campuses to attract students who are looking for affordably priced food options and minimal wait time. The lockers will be restocked every thirty minutes during lunch hours, and customers will be provided thirty minutes to retrieve their food before it is discarded. The ability to create dynamic pickup routes for drivers and establish delivery to centralized locations should lower the cost of the service significantly. Picko aims to make food delivery accessible to anyone.

The Founders

Rambod (L) and Helia (R)

Picko is led by Rambod Yousefzadeh, Helia Ghassemian, Shawn Snyder, and Ze Lyu. The idea for Picko first originated when Rambod and Helia were graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin. The founders realized they shared a mutual dissatisfaction with food available on campus but did not have enough time to walk to off-campus restaurants. They found that delivery services almost doubled the cost of a meal and started discussing their idea with friends who experienced similar problems.

Rambod Yousefzadeh — Rambod Yousefzadeh is currently pursuing a PhD degree in Aerospace and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin and will be graduating in Summer 2019. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College of London. He has worked as a product designer and manufacturer at two startups and developed animatronics mechanisms that are currently being used in a TV series called “Shabake Nim” at ManotoTV. In summer 2011, he won the best startup idea prize from University College London at the Startup Summer competition. Rambod’s responsibilities include designing and building all mechanical parts and university customer development for Picko.

Helia Ghassemian — Helia graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a dual degree in Neuroscience and French. Helia manages marketing, legal research, and contract negotiations for Picko.

Shawn Snyder — Shawn received his bachelor’s degree in Business from Point Park University. He is a full stack developer with over a decade of experience on multiple projects ranging from app design to designing interactive city art works. Shawn will develop front and back end software for both customers and drivers for Picko.

Ze Lyu — Ze is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He has substantial experience designing and building custom circuits. Ze is responsible for hardware development and integration for Picko.

How’re They Doing?

To date, Picko has developed a working prototype for the locker and achieved substantial progress on development of their mobile application. They are also in the process of negotiating contracts with local restaurants to join their service as well as finding locations to place their lockers. They are looking to generate significant traction before their soft launch.

Why I Led This Deal by Quinn Collins, Venture Partner

When Rambod and his team first pitched Picko to us, it was immediately clear that they were determined to bring better and more convenient food options to campus. While their idea of installing food lockers around campus is very exciting, I was more impressed with the tenacity and flexibility of Rambod’s team. After the due diligence team suggested strategic changes, they modified their objectives according to our suggestions, consistently updated us on their progress, and returned with a significantly improved venture. The combination of a tenacious team, a novel idea, and a vision of promoting the well-being of students inspired Genesis to fund this venture.