36|86 Student Edition 2017 winner: ‘Focus on the building blocks’
A TNTech team creates a sensory cultural experience with the Gigamunch app.
Sign up for a Gigamunch subscription and once a week you’ll get a taste of Vietnam, South Africa, Russia or any given culture around the world, delivered to your doorstep. And the taste involves more than a fully prepared international meal. Subscribers also receive a Spotify playlist and a cultural guide that includes facts about the featured country and a biography of the person who planned the menu.
“Immigrants and refugees design our meals,” said Enis Cirak, a Gigamunch co-founder along with Piyush Patel, Atish Patel, and Chris Sipe. “We go to them every time we feature a new culture to ensure we are representing the food correctly.”
A backpacking trip through Europe laid the groundwork for the company. The four classmates wanted to share the joy of exploring other cultures with consumers in a novel way.
Back at Tennessee Technological University, they put together a business plan for the Gigamunch app, pitched at 36|86 in 2017, and won. We caught up with Cirac to chat about the business.
What’s happened with Gigamunch since you won at 36|86?
Since the competition, we have tripled our subscriber base to more than 450 and featured more than 50 cultures. About nine months ago, we moved into our own kitchen on Thompson Lane. Hopefully, we’ll be moving into a bigger space soon. We have five full-time employees and 12 part-time.
Besides winning the pitch competition, what did you gain from your experience at 36|86?
The questions that we got from the judges really helped clarify some of the business challenges. We were asked about how we planned to scale to other cities — a simple but important point for us to consider — especially resonant now as we continue to grow.
How did you prepare to pitch?
I made a draft pitch and then asked a couple of mentors to provide feedback.
What advice do you have for this year’s 36|86 Student Edition competitors?
Make sure to pitch in front of a smart person and get their feedback before you finalize the pitch.
What advice do you have for pre-founder you?
Focus on the building blocks and foundation of what leads to success. You must have the ability to focus and think critically. If you have no attention span and cannot problem solve, then it doesn’t matter what your idea is.
How has your vision for Gigamunch evolved over time?
It’s changed a lot — we’ve definitely pivoted a couple of times. Today we are more focused on providing full experiences in a way that can actually scale.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in building your business?
Coming face-to-face with my own limiting beliefs. For example, if you believe you are not a “math” person, then every time you need to do some math for your business you will get scared or procrastinate. We all have various negative self-identifications that only hold us back. There’s no need to label yourself as lazy or stupid or anything. Just learn whatever you need to learn, and practice whatever you need to practice.
36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival’s student pitch competition gives student innovators a platform to access funding, marketing, and community and corporate resources. Students from Tennessee colleges and universities are encouraged to apply by May 31. LaunchTN will select 12-15 finalists to participate in the pitch competition at 36|86: Student Edition, Aug. 28-29 in Nashville, for a chance to win a piece of $60K in prizes.