Noticing how students would wait in long lines during inconvenient short breaks between classes prompted Priscilla Quiles to start using the order-ahead food app TruckBux.
“I love it,” said Quiles, the co-owner of the 4 Brothers, Loco Flavor Puerto Rican food truck on 12th Street near Norris Street. “I can select the time the order will take and there’s no wait time.”
TruckBux, a new app created by former Drexel University finance student Nick Nanakos, lets users see which food trucks are open before walking across campus. Since launching in October, 10 food trucks on Main Campus have signed up on the app, including The Creperie, Soul D’Lysh and 4 Brothers, Loco Flavor.
Students can use the TruckBux app to browse pictures of menu items and place orders ahead of time, paying with the integrated Venmo app.
While attending Drexel, Nanakos said he didn’t eat at food trucks because of long lines and inconvenient cash-only payment methods.
“I didn’t have time to wait outside in crappy weather, I didn’t carry cash,” he said. “Sometimes the trucks were closed and I ended up wasting more time.”
Nanakos believes digital payment integration is one of TruckBux’s key features, because it helps generate a lot of sales for the trucks.
Pete’s Little Lunch Box, a Drexel University food truck, only accepted cash before the owner started using TruckBux in May.
“We made them over $40,000 in less than a year,” Nanakos said. “That’s doing over $500 in sales a day. Sometimes over 350 orders a week.”
While Temple University food truck owners haven’t yet hit comparable milestones to Pete’s Little Lunch Box because the app has only been on Main Campus for a few weeks, Nanakos is hopeful for the future.
Quiles said she receives about 10 orders each week on the app, while Penelope Kyriazis from The Creperie said the truck gets about one TruckBux order per day.
Nanakos scouted The Creperie for the app based on student feedback.
“I’m the CEO and I’m at Temple, not just talking to the trucks but talking to students,” Nanakos said. “There’s no room for disconnect.”
Nanakos predicts a spike in TruckBux sales in December, and plans to increase business with app promo codes and brand ambassadors on Main Campus.
He added that TruckBux offers new advertising opportunities for food trucks through photo shoots and social media promotion.
“[We] introduce you to the owner, show photos nobody has ever seen,” Nanakos said. “It gives them that personal connection with the food truck. People are more likely to engage.”
For Nanakos, the food industry is part of his upbringing. His grandfather came to America from Greece, started a hot dog stand in New York City and opened a restaurant with his earnings. Nanakos said his heritage makes him feel he has a lot to offer Temple food truck owners.
“I’m not just some tech guy pushing a product,” Nankos said. “I’ve worked in the food industry, I’ve been a busboy, I’ve watched my family make the sacrifices. I understand their concerns.”
Nanakos said the company is raising money to expand beyond Philadelphia, as well as add catering services from food trucks.
“We bring people to food trucks and food trucks to the people,” Nanakos said.