MIDLOTHIAN — In the spirit of ambition and strong work ethic, one 23-year-old local is carving his own path through Midlothian, delivering big-city app luxuries to small town regions.
“The original idea was to help families and for it to be a community effort, basically to help Midlothian. Since I’ve gotten so much from growing up there, it’s my turn to contribute back and help people out, that’s the way I look at it,” said Joey McAteer, CEO of Home Run Deliveries.
Classified as a courier service, Home Run Deliveries brings the comfort and convenience of restaurant quality meals to the dinner table of smaller cities through a click of a button.
“Say you come home from work, and you really don’t want to go out, but you want a sit-down experience on your couch, Home Run Deliveries brings the luxury of restaurant quality foods right at your doorstep,” he added to his business’ benefits.
Transporting more than just food, HRD also provides a “Special Request” button to have anything brought to one’s door, such as dry cleaning, groceries, or forgotten errands, making this system a modern-day personal assistant.
“What’s unique about us and really cool, we have a 'special requests' feature, so you can order anything you wanted. Say you want us to pick up groceries for you from Wal-Mart, then you fill out what you want, and we’ll pick it up and deliver it to you. Even though Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is our only partnered restaurant right now if you fill out the special requests form, even though you won’t be able to see their full menu, we can still pick it up for you,” he expounded.
Graduating from Midlothian High School in 2012, McAteer’s business began to slowly unveil itself when his mother needed help from time to time.
“I grew up in Midlothian. I loved the high school and graduated five years ago,” he began. “My mom is a single mom, and we lived right behind the high school, so I ‘d always walk home, but when she’d come home, she’d be too tired to cook, because she was working all day or too tired to go out to restaurants.
“And the only thing that delivered was Pizza Hut or a Chinese restaurant, but of course, I’d always want a sit-down restaurant and not just fast food every night. So that got me thinking, and that’s kind of how the idea came. I thought, ‘you know, this could be a service to help single parents or even large families with kids –anybody really,’” he explained. McAteer said the business plan continued to develop into his freshman year of college at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
“I went to SMU, and while I was there, I was lucky enough to enter the idea for my delivery service during an entrepreneurship class I took for one of my electives. I’d always been interested in entrepreneurship and thought, ‘That’d be kind of fun,’” McAteer recalled.
Taking a compacted class called a “may-term,” which crammed a full semester’s worth of work over the course of 11 days, McAteer challenged himself to learn the material while developing a plausible idea for his pitch.
“The way the class is set up is you’re supposed to come up with an idea, and you do all the research for that idea, put together a pitch deck, like you would pitch on Shark Tank or Investor. The teacher brings people in at the end of class, and you pitch your idea, and they give you feedback. It teaches you how to pitch and how to grow your business,” he explained.
Working fast on his project to make up for a typical 16-week course, McAteer’s original pitch needed a little maturing during his first round of practice pitches.
“So I came up with the idea, and it was originally for concession stands in stadiums, where you could order the food from your seat and have it come to you. That was the original idea that I pitched. We did a practice pitch and then the class rated who’s they liked. Mine didn’t come in the top ten,” he laughed, at the memory.
Motivated to work harder, McAteer modified his idea to better serve those in smaller cities, rather than inside the stadium, strengthening his business for the final round of practice pitches.
“In Dallas and bigger cities, some companies already do this, but the problem I’ve noticed is they’re all focused on major cities, not local smaller cities. And I thought, ‘Well, maybe that’s my niche,’” he smiled. “We’ll deliver to the Midlothian’s, Waxahachie’s, and Red Oak’s of the world and focus on smaller cities.”
Believing that all cities should have the option to deliver, McAteer goes on to say that working in smaller cities suites his business even better.
“I think it works even better in a smaller city than a big one. With big cities there’s a lot more traffic spread out, and with smaller cities you’re usually more condensed, less traffic, and by the time you place your food under an hour — we’ll have it delivered to you,” he recalled expressing to his class.
Bringing his improved idea to class and submitting it first, McAteer presented his business to a mixed audience of fellow classmates and other business owners who had never heard his pitch before.
“My idea was the first for the class. My teacher brought in outside people, and they were like, ‘Yeah, alright.’ I was able to answer their questions, and they loved the idea,” he stated. “So I was like, ‘maybe I have something.’ Then after that, I entered the idea into SMU’s Business Plan Competition. My professor encouraged me and said, ‘Well, you won here for the class, why don’t you try it?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t have anything to lose,’ so I put together a business plan and had the pitch ready to go, and entered it there.”
Placing first in the top six of the competition, McAteer received a $5,000 fund to bring his business plan to reality.
“That’s how I got the money to build the app, the website, and do all of that,” he stated.
BUILDING THE BUSINESS
Living in a technologically advanced society, McAteer knew designing a personalized app and website would be vital to his business’ success.
“I started searching how to build an app for cheap, and luckily found this one company in India, called Appy Pie. They are basically template-based, which is perfect for people like me who don’t know coding, so you just build it how you want it, and they code it all for you. So, I did that,” McAteer acknowledged. “They had been working on it for months, all last year basically. We actually launched it this year in January in the first week it went live in the app stores, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh sweet.'"
Customizing his online service to concur with Midlothian’s heart for community service, McAteer added an option to help those in need while placing an order.
“We even have a link on our app to Manna House, so you can even donate directly to them. We’re not partners with them, but I chose to put that on there because community service is an important part of my business,” he acknowledged.
Officially going live with his app and website in early January, McAteer partnered with his first restaurant, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Midlothian, which reunited his hometown roots to assist his community-based business better.
“I want to thank Brad, the owner of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, who gave me my first start. I went to high school with his son, and we were on the same basketball team together. I talked to Brad, and he was like, ‘Okay, I’ll give you a shot.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, thanks!’” McAteer laughed. “And that’s my first restaurant I partnered with. Right now, they’re the only restaurant we partner with, but we’re looking to expand to others.”
Catering to the food industry by offering an outlet of distribution, Home Run Deliveries profits restaurants through a larger reach of service.
“It’s a benefit to the restaurant because we have their full menu on our website and if you go on and order anything you want from their menu, they’ll cook it, and we’ll pick it up and deliver it. Other restaurants in town that don’t deliver — we can offer that delivery service because it’s cheaper to use us than for the restaurants to actually do it,” McAteer explained. “Because they have to pay for the employees to do the delivery, other services, and fees. When I come in and do it, I take care of all of that for the restaurant, and they don’t have to pay all that stuff, and they get to reap the rewards of me delivering for them, and now they can say they have a delivery service. That’s the goal, and I’m hoping for other restaurants to reach out."
As for the customer’s perspective on this service?
“So when you go on, you won’t just have to say, ‘what is that restaurant I like?’ But if we partner with them, just like Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, the customer is able to see the restaurant's whole menu on there, to where you’ll just go, ‘Click, click, click – done.’ It’s that simple,” he elaborated about the app’s uncomplicated use.
DELIVERING AND EMPLOYING
Among the many benefits of McAteer’s entrepreneurship brings, versatile employment is landing at the top.
“I thought I would be getting a lot of high schools and college employees, but to my surprise, it was a lot of stay-at-home moms who wanted something to do during the day to make a few extra bucks or to get out of the house for a bit. That surprised me because I didn’t event think about that,” McAteer admitted.
Recently graduating with his master’s degree, McAteer never imagined he’d be sitting in the boss’ chair after college.
“I did my first interviews back in December, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I just interviewed somebody for the first time and usually it’s the other way around.’ Of course, I was just getting out of college and going through that process myself on the other end interviewing for jobs, so it was kind of crazy that I’m like, ‘Wow, I actually got people working for me.’ That was just like and ‘Oh wow’ moment for me, and it was pretty cool,” He laughed
Recalling his first order on Jan. 7, McAteer was ready to test out his own delivery system as he got his first alert on his phone.
“I remember sitting at my house when the order came in, and I said, ‘Ah, I got to go!’” he laughed, witnessing his hard work finally paying off. “That whole thing started, and it was really cool, and it just came all together.”
Building a friendly repertoire in Midlothian, McAteer’s business is gaining traction among Midlothian locals and newcomers alike.
“I usually ask my orders how they heard about us and this one lady who just moved to Midlothian said she was from Plano and used a similar company. So they Googled food deliveries in Midlothian, and that’s how they found us. And the lady was like, ‘We just love that service up there and was disappointed that nobody was doing it down here. And now we found you, and we’re so excited you’re down here,’” McAteer recounted with a chuckle.
To connect with Home Run Deliveries, visit homerundeliveries.com.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer