After a successful pilot program in 2014, Mac Startups held its second 10-week long entrepreneurial program on campus this summer. A select group of 14 students organized into eight teams learned about entrepreneurship and how to develop their ideas into real products and businesses.

New ideas ranged from VendFresh, which aims to provide healthy snacks in vending machines, to Unanimus, an app that helps people decide which restaurant to choose for their meal.

Over the summer, students in the program heard from 18 guest speakers, conducted 287 customer interviews, and spent more than 1,000 hours in Neill Hall working on their business plans.

Mac Weekly reporter Joe Klein reported in the Sept. 11, 2015, issue on one of the new businesses developed through Mac Startups. Read his edited report below. (To read his entire unedited story, visit


NÜDL has a single mission: to bring students together through a meal.

Alex Dangel ’16 (Stuttgart, Germany) and Caitlin Toner ’15 (New PRovidence, N.J.) created NÜDL over the summer through Mac Startups, and went to work fixing problems that exist in the American food system.

Even though it’s not complicated, it’s a fantastic concept. It’s an easy, cheap solution to a question I’ve struggled over far too often since moving off campus: what am I going to do for dinner tonight?

NÜDL tries to solve that problem by creating a network where students can sign up to attend meals cooked by fellow Macalester students.

“I was convinced that there were problems [with our food system],” Dangel says. He and Toner explored options for their startup, such as making grocery shopping easier, connecting students with vegetables, and other issues.

“When it comes to eating, we often pick convenience over something that’s good for us,” Dangel says. “Getting together around a meal also creates a positive environment around food. Eating by yourself, eating a microwave meal, is what we often resort to, but it doesn’t make us happy.”

A few weeks in, and NÜDL has already hosted over 30 Mealshares and served over 200 students.

I went to a Mealshare myself. I signed up online and got a Google Calendar invite soon after with more details on when and where to go for my meal.

I sat around a table with five other Mac students and the host. Some of them I knew in passing, while others I had never met. I can’t speak for the others, but I really enjoyed the chance to share a meal with new people.

That’s why I enjoyed my Mealshare so much. It took what had become such a routine, bland experience and made it a fulfilling, communal experience.

NÜDL hopes to expand; according to Dangel, this may involve reaching out to Macalester alums in the area or other Twin Cities college students. They are also working on a website and mobile app.

But for now, it’s going to continue doing what it does well: connecting students and meals.

September 14 2015

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