If you want to know how to fast-track an idea, take note of this recipe: Pair one philanthropic idea with a bright-eyed, girl-next-door type, throw in a little reality show hubbub and a solid weekend with a few tech geeks. Mix in just enough social media to make a stink and voila! You have Plateshare, the latest solution to fighting hunger in Charlotte.
Plateshare is the brainchild of Katie Levans, a local blogger with a penchant for downward dog (she's a yoga teacher) and a good cause. The simple premise of Plateshare is "Dine out. Do good." The mobile application will allow diners to round their restaurant or grocery bill up to the nearest dollar for charitable spending that will go to feed the hungry. We caught up with Levans after a full day of exciting new developments to get the dish on Plateshare.
Creative Loafing: How did the idea for Plateshare come about?
Katie Levans: I started volunteering at Second Harvest Metrolina as part of my graduate seminar requirements in the spring of 2012. I worked on the sorting floor and became interested in food hunger relief. I started researching food drives and thought, "How do we get the food banks money instead of food?" I immediately bought the domain name and just started blasting it all over the place. I'm really loud on social media.
Plateshare really came alive during Charlotte Startup Weekend this past January; tell us how you got involved?
I heard about the competition three days before it started and knew nothing about it. I had just gotten back from being on The Bachelor, an experience that reminded me what I want and what I don't want in my life. I knew I wanted to do Plateshare. There were 35 pitches over a weekend and seven advanced to the final pitch. I worked with a team of guys who stayed up until 4 a.m. coding and designing for Plateshare.
After Startup Weekend, I was invited to join RevTech Labs, an entrepreneurial mentorship program, which gave me three months of free office space and mentoring to prepare for the final pitch on June 5.
Have you received much interest?
I get emails from all over the country with people who are ready to use Plateshare. I'm hoping to have a grassroots launch in Charlotte to benefit Second Harvest Metrolina. We're going to unofficially launch during the next Restaurant Week on July 19. I also just met with a marketing and app design agency that is on board to help create a socially integrated application.
All eyes are on us, so we have to deliver. I want Plateshare to be on every receipt in the nation.