Last fall, New York University undergraduates Samir Goel (Stern ’16) and Hannah Dehradunwala (Gallatin ’16) found themselves in the middle of a dark and rainy Washington Square Park where they practiced pitching theirSocial Impact Business Challenge (SIBC) idea, Transfernation, to an audience of trees. They spent weeks developing a business plan and were excited to share their work with the SIBC judges, who would decide if they were going to be the winning team to take home $20,000 in seed money.
Goel, whose concentrations at Stern include Finance and Global Business, says he and Dehradunwala were determined to give their best effort because of the value they saw in their idea.
“Transfernation is about connecting corporations with social institutions, so that extra food from corporate events can go to homeless shelters and soup kitchens to help those in need,” says Goel, who notes that, according to a 2012 report from the National Resource Defense Center, approximately 40% of all food products go to waste. “It’s about connecting people, but it’s also about creating a cultural movement that really changes the way that people look at what they do with their extra food, and creating a more conscious society.”
Though they didn’t win SIBC, the competition was a valuable experience. They took what they learned about social entrepreneurship and developing a business idea and went back to work.
The experience paid off. They entered and won the Resolution Social Venture Challenge at the Clinton Global Initiative University in March 2014. Goel and Dehradunwala were both awarded Resolution Fellowships, $5,500 in startup funding, mentorship, pro bono legal consulting, and marketing resources. The hours of work and feedback they’ve received have been an invaluable resource to the development of their nonprofit.
On October 16, 2014, Transfernation facilitated the delivery of 85 pounds of leftover food to The Bowery Mission which served as the organization’s official launch, Goel and Dehradunwala also coordinated a successful food pick-up at The Resolution Project’s New York City Gala at the Harvard Club of New York City. The nonprofit was also recently featured in USA TODAY College’s Voices from Campus section.
The ideas behind what would eventually become Transfernation were first discussed during Goel and Dehradunwala’s freshman year, in their residence hall.
“We were neighbors on the same floor, and we started to work together when Samir came to me and asked if I wanted to do a Social Impact business competition with him at Stern,” says Dehradunwala, whose concentrations at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study include politics, social entrepreneurship, and Middle Eastern studies. “I was really into social impact and social entrepreneurship, so I said yes, and that’s how we started.”
They piloted their project in Pakistan, where Dehradunwala lived for eight years. During a visit to Pakistan in June 2013?, she worked with friends from high school to donate leftovers from local restaurants to people in need. That work has continued since she returned to New York for the academic year; she and Goel regularly communicate with their partners in Pakistan over e-mail and video chats, which they say helped prepare them for launching Transfernation.
“We want people to be more conscious of what they do with their extra food and shift their way of thinking,” says Goel. “We have the ability to make a difference.”
Friday, November 7, 2014