OUT TO LUNCH finds creative business consultant Aileen Bennett conducting business Acadiana style: over lunch. Each week Aileen invites guests from Acadiana's business community to join her. Beyond the foundations of the Acadiana economy - oil, cuisine, music - there is a vast network of entrepreneurs, small businesses, and even some of the country's largest companies who call Acadiana home. Out to Lunch is the cafeteria of the wider Acadiana business community. You can also hear the show on KRVS 88.7FM.
Things are changing around here. A few years ago, you never heard the words “entrepreneur” and “Acadiana” in the same sentence. Then we started to see what’s known an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” grow up here. That’s where people start up new businesses based on all kinds of outlandish ideas far removed from our usual oil and gas economy.
To help these businesses succeed there are business incubators, business accelerators, angel investors, and even some access to venture capital to grow these new businesses. Because this is how household-name tech businesses were born and grew up in Silicon Valley, people around here started saying, “If this entrepreneurial ecosystem is so great, shouldn’t we have our own success story? Like Google or Facebook?”
Well, guess, what? As of 2018 we do. It’s called Waitr.
Waitr is a food delivery app that connects hungry people to restaurants. You place an order on your Waitr app. Waitr’s proprietary technology sends your order to a restaurant. And in the real world, Waitr sends a driver who picks up your order and delivers it to you.
In case you’re thinking this is far too simple of a concept to be as big as Facebook, Waitr sold to the owner of the Houston Rockets and Landry’s restaurants, for $308m. And it’s barely started growing.
Chris Meaux founded Waitr in Lake Charles in 2015. As a part of the company’s sale, Chris is going to stay on as CEO. And when Waitr goes public, later this year, Chris will be Chairman of the Board.
This sensational overnight success has taken Chris 23 years of hard work in the tech sector to achieve. In this candid conversation with Aileen Bennett, Chris chronicles where he's come from, where he's at, and, more importantly to him, the long road of deliveries and deliverables he has ahead.
Photos over lunch at Cafe Vermilionville by Thomas Peters.