Humans are hunters and gatherers. However, over the course of evolution we’ve become much lazier. Lucky for us, there’s Food-Bot.com. Born from the desire for free food combined with a lack of physical motivation to go looking for it, the site has enabled college students to browse delicious giveaways on campus without even leaving their dorm rooms.
Greg Woloschyn, a computer science major at Carnegie Mellon University, had a dream. When he woke up hungry from that dream, he got to work on creating Food-Bot. The site lists free food for 12 campuses and won Carnegie Mellon’s Smiley Award in March. We caught up with Woloschyn to hear more about the hunger that fueled his project.
What was the inspiration behind Food-Bot?
My main inspiration was my sheer love for free food. I couldn’t stand the thought of so many free food events going on all around me and not knowing about it. I had to do something about it. Luckily, I had taken a class at CMU, Intro to Artificial Intelligence (15-381), where I learned some basic machine learning techniques. I decided this was the perfect situation to apply what I had learned.
What is the site’s philosophy? How do you gather the information about free food events?
My site’s philosophy is “don’t let food go to waste.” I gather the information using event websites that post information about upcoming events, including events containing free food.
How did you have time to launch a project like this as a full time student?
If you’re hungry enough, you’ll make time for something like this. And I certainly was hungry enough. Perhaps a better question would be “how did I find time to attend all of those free food events and still get my work done?” The answer to this is still a mystery to me.
How has the site grown since you first launched it?
The site has grown quite a bit since the beginning (especially since the time when Food-Bot was still just a Gmail filter). I didn’t expect it to become so sophisticated. After using it myself to go without paying for food for 5 months, it’s nice to see other people catching on to the site’s usefulness.
How many schools can use Food-Bot now and what are your hopes for the future?
Currently there are 12 universities, although the most active users are at 3 of them. My hope is to gain an even stronger user base.
What advice do you have for other students who want to expand on their own creative business ideas?
Don’t be afraid to take risks, and don’t get discouraged if it seems like things aren’t going well. If you really believe in your idea, don’t let anything make you lose faith, and go all out.
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