Andy Tekriwal, a 2013 College graduate, has created a “truly remarkable” alternative to the meal plan.
Tekriwal is CFO of The Real Meals, a local catering company that often provides food for Penn sorority and fraternity events. It also operates as a meal service, allowing customers to pick up quality prepared meals for around $10 each.
The concept for The Real Meals began at a party for Tekriwal’s fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, where he was introduced to two students attending the The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill. Tekriwal offered to pay the students, Steven Van Niel and Kevin Adams, to cook for his fraternity brothers several days a week. This arrangement quickly turned into a business.
With Tekriwal handling the business side and Van Niel and Adams doing the cooking, by Spring 2013, their business provided an alternative to Penn’s dining plan.
“I had always had a problem with the meal plan at Penn and saw this as a cool opportunity to meet the need that I thought the community had,” he said.“You could get a truly remarkable daily dinner delivered to your door.”
After graduating, Tekriwal continued his work with The Real Meals, delivering meals regularly to fraternities and catering larger events including a 1,300 person dinner for PennApps.
Currently, Tekriwal and his business partners hope to expand to areas in D.C. and New Jersey with large populations of college students.
“The beautiful thing about the college market is that you get new blood into it every year replacing the graduating class,” he said.
To handle managing the company, Tekriwal took inspiration from the business tactics taught at Penn. He explained that his decision to attend Penn as an undergraduate was because of the Wharton business mentality and used Wharton ideals to establish connections and maintain a steady client base.
“We wouldn’t have survived as a company in the first few months if we didn’t have people in the university community giving us a chance,” Tekriwal said. “The ability for them to look at what we’re doing and try to take a chance on us is why we’re still here.”
Although Tekriwal today is an entrepreneur, he is actually on the path to becoming a doctor. The biological basis of behavior major plans to hand over his position as CFO so he can attend medical school next year. Still, he appreciates the experience, he said.
“It went from being a cool idea that we all had to something very real,” Tekriwal added.
Tekriwal views his experience over the past few months as incredibly valuable and encourages Penn students to follow his example.
“I think it’s important to try something different and make your own way,” he said.