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“We are a fundraising and donation engine, with a group buying twist.”

Ola Ayni is the President of BunchBite.com

Interview by Kelsey Meyer of theloi.com

Ola Ayeni has discovered a way to offer people discounts on food, while also offering them the benefit of helping nonprofits.  BunchBite.com is a group-buying, fundraising and donation service for non-profits, schools, foundations and causes. Each week, BunchBite helps consumers experience favorite local restaurants, and new hot spots, while saving up to 85% and supporting local charities.

BunchBite is comprised of five employees; Ola Ayeni, Jodi Vanderwater, Cynthia Lamb, Mohammed Asim Ashraf, David Matus, and some dedicated interns.  This team started Bunchbite in November 2010, and has partnered with some big name non-profits.  The future of BunchBite is to expand statewide to schools, nonprofits, and foundations before going nationwide.


MO:
BunchBite is a much-needed solution to the need for effective fundraising on a local level.  Can you explain how the process works for non-profits who wish to work with BunchBite?

Ola:
Our process is simple, we find well-rated local restaurants and food related businesses and help them fill seats. Our nonprofit partners receive about 10% cut directly from every restaurant deal we serve, and also saving donations before checkout from our website. In other words, for example think of a $40 worth of food and drinks sold for $20 at P.J Clarke Chicago benefitting StreetWise, our nonprofit partner. StreetWise gets 10% of $20 which is $2, plus donation savings of possibly $5, $10 or $15 on top of this from generous consumers. There are also other direct donation opportunities on our website.

Bunch Bite

MO:
It is interesting that BunchBite is a free service, but is also member’s only.  What advantage does this give your company by having people register?

Ola:
Membership creates exclusivity and a mission of belonging. Members can download their giving information for possible tax deductions. We need to identify who you are in order for the nonprofit you gave to, to send you a giving statement and a thank you.  Also only members who sign up receive e-mail notification from us.

MO:
I really like that BunchBite focuses on local dining.  Do you think this is one thing that draws people to your site, the appreciation for local cuisine?

Ola:
I believe it is one of the reasons, but not the only one.  People think locally about things that affect them or make decisions in their locality.  It does not make sense to many people to get a deal 20 miles away in order to save $15. Most people would prefer deals within 5 miles of their location.  Another main reason people like BunchBite is the giving aspect.

MO:
I’m always interested in how companies like these start.  Can you explain what the inspiration was for BunchBite and what steps were first taken to turn an idea into a business?

Ola:
The idea of BunchBite started in the beginning of 2010 as a result of concerns and comments I was receiving from restaurant operators in my other company Dining Dialog. Many operators complain that many nonprofits just expect to receive free gift cards to use at their restaurant without much benefit for the restaurant. I also realized that many nonprofits and schools are in need of money to run their programs. The recession is not helpful at all.  Also, many people, like me, like to save money and watch our expenses these days. I wanted to create something where everyone wins. Consumers win when they get a savings, local restaurants win when we help them to fill their seats on slow days, nonprofits and schools win by receiving cash to run their programs. BunchBite also wins by taking a minimal admin fee.

MO:
Is BunchBite similar to Groupon in the sense that a certain number of people have to buy a deal before it is open?  If so, what is this number, and do most of the deals hit this mark?

Ola:
BunchBite is similar to Groupon in the sense of certain number of people have to buy it, but we allow people to receive their deals 1 hr after buying it. There are major differences between BunchBite and Groupon; we only promote restaurant and food deals. No bikini wax or teeth whitening.  We are a fundraising, and donation engine with a group buying twist.

MO:
How is BunchBite working toward expansion in the near future?

Ola:
We have validated our business model, and moving from the bootstrapping, beta phase to a growth stage. We are now looking for investors, hiring key roles, and improving our technology. Money raised will be used for our statewide and nationwide expansion plan.

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