Startup Stories

Ever wonder how someone came up with his or her startup idea? We’ve compiled a list of some of the moments that inspired startup founders.

1. Appetite 

Appetite, a 1789 venture created by Morgan Howell and Josh Potter, is an app that helps individuals decide on a restaurant based on their current activity, mood, and preferences.

“We saw the way that Songza was entering the market, and we realized that we wanted to apply that to food,” said Howell.  

They began coding Appetite in December 2014, around the time of Carolina Challenge, which is UNC’s business venture competition designed to promote entrepreneurship.

Appetite is currently available on Android devices and is coming soon to IOS.

2. Reddit 

Reddit’s startup story begins with a devastating rejection. Co-founders Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman were able to score an interview to pitch their startup idea with Y Combinator Founder Paul Graham, but their mobile food ordering startup was quickly rejected.

However, they were given a second chance—but only if they were willing to start from scratch. During a phone call, Graham told Ohanian and Huffman that they needed to “build the front page of the Internet,” and so Reddit was born.

3. Hypestarter

“As a college student at UNC, I realized that I was missing out on so many great events and wanted to create a solution for that,” said Ryan Bregier, founder of former 1789 venture and event discovery app Hypestarter.

Users can share their events across devices and can connect with existing social media accounts in order to create campaigns for each event.

4. SnapChat

It seems as if everyone is using SnapChat these days, and it all started when a friend of co-founder Evan Spiegel mentioned regretting sending a particular photo over text. This led Spiegel on the hunt for an app that involved disappearing text, photo, or video, and when he was unable to locate one, SnapChat was born.

5. Airbnb

Airbnb is a site that allows individuals to rent out their lodgings and gives others the change to book unique spaces, whether that be an apartment, home, villa or castle.

The year was 2007 and Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were both out of the job and having financial problems. When they realized that the annual Industrial Design Society of America conference was approaching and that Los Angeles accommodations would be hard to come by, they decided to pull out some air mattresses and turn their apartment into an “air bed and breakfast.”

6. FreshSpire

FreshSpire, a 1789 venture, aims to help grocery stores, their customers, and the environment by targeting disparities in effective food distribution present in surrounding communities. 

“Our team came together and sought to create a way in which grocers could connect with consumers motivated to buy healthy food at lower prices, all while reducing landfill greenhouse gas emissions in the process,” said co-founder Hannah Sloan.

Once on the market, the FreshSpire mobile app will alert consumers of discounts on near-expiring produce that are marked down in their local grocery stores. By doing so, FreshSpire will keep produce from reaching landfills and lower the price of healthy food for consumers. 

During Sloan's senior high school, she and four other young women came together to compete in the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge, choosing to focus on the food industry. They conducted research on the greatest inefficiencies for grocers, consumers and the environment, and were inspired to create what would later become FreshSpire.

“We were appalled by the statistics we found, listing that our state of North Carolina was — is — ranked among the top in the nation in terms of both childhood obesity and percentage of citizens experiencing food shortage,” said Sloan.

“In processing such measures of inequality, coupled with knowledge of the environmental ramifications of consistent corporate and household food wastage, we thought there had to be a better way to address this gap in effective food distribution.” 

Check out more startup stories here.