EnterpriseWorks Incubator graduate and University of Illinois alumnus from the Computer Science program, Rajesh Karmani, conceived his idea while at school in Champaign. What happens to leftover food at restaurants by the end of the night? Fed up with the wasteful protocols of the food service industry, Rajesh Karmani, developed Zero Percent, an all-encompassing platform that safely allows businesses to donate the food that would have otherwise been thrown out to local non-profits and food pantries. He laid its initial foundation in the EnterpriseWorks Incubator, before joining the now over one hundred incubator graduates when they were accepted into Impact Engine’s sixteen-week program for companies looking to positively affect society.
More than 25 nonprofits in Chicago receive donations through Zero Percent, including Franciscan Outreach in Wicker Park and the Pacific Garden Mission in the South Loop. About 1,000 pounds of food is donated each day in Chicago; that’s expected to rise to 10,000 pounds daily by year-end, Mr. Karmani projects…Mr. Karmani started the business with $15,000 in savings. He moved the company to Chicago last fall when it was accepted into Impact Engine’s 16-week accelerator program. In exchange for a 7 percent ownership of the startup, Impact Engine gave Zero Percent $25,000 and guidance. In June, he received $220,000 from angel investors.
Karmani found the Holy Grail of business, because it is a win-win-win: a win for him, because he founded a successful for-profit company; a win for the companies involved because they can donate and obtain more tax write-offs while marketing a greener initiative; and most importantly, it is a win for society as multitudes of people are fed substantial food each day. Karmani and Zero Percent were featured once again in Crain’s Chicago Business. Read the full article here: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140703/ISSUE01/140629861