Five students, four from College Park and one from UMBC, got the chance to sell the product of their tech startup based around the idea that food opportunities, especially for college students, need to benefit the body for without breaking your wallet.
Liban Saif, Zaki Abdullah, Zakariya Salhan, all juniors, and two of their friends are the founders of Thickens, what hopes to become a food truck service that serves fried chicken and donuts on college campuses around the nation.
“We wanna leave our legacy,” Liban, an economics major, said. “We wanna make good food affordable. We want to put the food back in fast food cause most fast food places, let’s be honest, is not up to standard with regular food. And we sort of want to bring that back.”
“I guess by giving them a better choice that’s also affordable, students will have a better time enjoying their food,” Zakariya, a public health science major, said.
“And that’s not to say that our food is like the healthiest because, let’s face it, its fried chicken and donuts,” Liban quickly clarified. “But at the same time it’s not gonna leave you feeling like crap…the whole idea is that you know you have a wholesome meal at an affordable price.”
What started as a rambling late one night at Krispy Kreme is quickly turning into a dream come true for them. And, after many rude awakenings and burnt donuts, they landed a gig selling their food during Art Attack, Maryland’s annual concert event. With the help of Startup Shell, a student-run space and incubator fostering entrepreneurship through collaboration, according to their website, Thickens got in contact with people at SEE, who decided to give them the chance to sell their product.
“In the past years, Art Attack has, I guess, had attendances between 7,000 and 10,000 people throughout the day,” Liban said. “We’re pretty excited for the opportunity. We think it’s going to be a big step not only making revenue, but also getting our name out there as well, and just raising awareness.”
While Liban focuses on the food aspects and Zakariya focuses on advertising, computer engineering major Zaki enjoys the tech part of the process.
“What makes us different other from the fact that we sell chicken and donuts is that we are focusing ourselves on automating the whole food making process,” he said. “I guess that’s what the catch is with us. We plan on opening, in the far future, an engineering firm where we develop new technologies to automate the food industry…So there’s like no one, no human involved.”
Zaki hopes that, with their technology and the automation of the food industry, humans will feel free to become more educated now that they don’t have to worry about dealing with their most basic needs.
“By eliminating labor intensive jobs, we push society as a whole to become more educated,” he said.
And that’s their entire purpose: by making good food, these guys hope to leave a legacy aside from their academics through helping their customers.
“It’s a lot of hard work, too, shuttling between restaurant depot and handling classes and everything else,” Liban said, “but at the end of the day, if you do something you love, you don’t even have to work a day in your life. I am working but I feel like it’s a lot easier doing something that I truly enjoy.”