It’s a new day for Gabriel Gamez and Enrique Loyola from South LA. The food tech startup of longtime friends, On the go LA, recently celebrated its first anniversary, and with California finally reopening, entrepreneurs seem poised to make a mark on the local food scene.
On The Go LA allows local food entrepreneurs to rent a food truck with just a few clicks for a daily rate of $ 299, or on longer plans that offer lower rates. The founders do not take any of the profits from the trucks. Instead, they make money from rentals and optional add-ons, such as a cleaning service or scouting. In addition to managing a team of four, Gamez and Loyola oversee logistics, insurance, public relations and marketing.
The company’s goal is ambitious. Gamez especially hopes to see On the Go LA attract immigrant communities, whose members make up a large part of the labor at the back of the house in the restaurants of the city. According to Gamez, his business can provide relatively inexpensive access to a kitchen for future food entrepreneurs hampered by the resources to rent conventional restaurant space.
“We provide this flexibility, this accessibility and this access to property for under-represented communities,” he said. “Commercial kitchens operate with high start-up costs. It can really party many communities in the Los Angeles area, especially Latin and African communities. We wanted to help these communities. Already, he said, their two trucks have been leased by a mix of clients: local food entrepreneurs, chefs, catering businesses, and even a few brick-and-mortar restaurants looking to expand.
The idea came to Gamez and Loyola in early 2020, shortly after they both graduated from college and talked about what they wanted to do with their lives. Food had long been a part of their family’s history: Gamez’s Guatemalan father carried bananas across the country and to El Salvador; Loyola’s grandfather sold roast chicken in Mexico. “We know how the other thinks,” Gamez said. “We are basically brothers.”
After ironing out the problems with their idea – the original concept centered around a “traveling ice cream truck model,” Gamez said, though they quickly settled on something a little less precarious – they did. was able to start their business with a grant of $ 25,000 in PledgeLA to fight racial inequalities on the local tech scene.
The program provided a two-week acceleration program in January 2020 with virtual meetings, lectures and mentorship to support the 20 black and Latino entrepreneurs selected to participate. On The Go LA also participates in LA2050 Grant Challenge, which awards prizes of up to $ 100,000 to 25 organizations. Voting for the contest begins next week. (Gamez and Loyola invested over $ 10,000 of their own savings at the start.)
In July 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, they officially launched. While it’s been slow, things seem to be picking up steam, especially now that Los Angeles has officially opened. “We have seen a resurgence of interest,” Gamez said.
While food trucks have been a fixture in LA for decades, they have been hit during the pandemic. “We would love to help revitalize the food industry,” said Loyola.
Considering the pre-pandemic growth levels the food truck industry had seen before the pandemic – around 7.5% between 2016 and 2020, according to market research firm IbisWorld – there is good reason to believe that this is indeed a very achievable goal.
And investors are taking note.
“On The Go LA provides a short-term solution, which is so much more suitable for restaurateurs who want to experiment to build awareness of their brand as it is not a long-term commitment,” said Austin Clements, partner at Slauson & Co., a start-up venture capital firm.
Meanwhile, Gamez and Loyola have their eyes set on the future, with potential expansion to other cities on the horizon. “On The Go LA is part of a bigger dream for everyone involved,” Gamez said. “We want to empower people and lead a movement.”
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