While most people ride personal watercraft vehicles for fun, Dylan Dierking is using his to tap into his entrepreneurial dreams.
A junior in the Opus College of Business Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, Dierking and his best friend Graham DeVore came up with Foodski, a food delivery business providing hungry White Bear Lake boaters tasty eats from nearby restaurants via Jet Ski. Foodski’s motto: “You Buy – We Fly.” Dierking said they came up with the concept while brainstorming ideas they were passionate about.
“What’s the first reason you get off from the lake? I would say in my experience it’s because someone’s hungry, and that can spoil the mood for everyone," he said.
Navigating the tide
Hoping to make a day out on the lake even more relaxing, the two friends began working on the details. They considered using drones to deliver and then thought dinghies would do the trick. After weighing the pros and cons of each, they decided on Jet Skis, which they each already owned. Keeping equipment costs low – they use backpacks to secure food orders – the team is out on the lake Thursday-Sunday from afternoon to an hour and half before sunset. They have relationships with four restaurants and are talking to a well-known grocery store chain about a partnership.
The feedback has been positive, said Dierking. People like the convenience and once they try it, they’re repeat customers. Like with any new business, there are challenges including one they were expecting – the weather.
“Of course, if it’s raining, there aren’t going to be any orders,” he said. “But I didn’t think the wind – even a light one – would impact business as much as it has. And cloud cover, too. It’s crazy how much overcast affects the amount of boats on the lake. It’s an adjustment in the way we anticipate orders.”
Dierking’s excited about Foodski’s future and would eventually like to add more lakes and workers to the roster.
A member of the inaugural Schulze Innovation Scholarship cohort, Dierking said being part of the group has given him more confidence in his abilities than he’s had in the past.
“I never imagined I would have received this scholarship,” he said. “It’s not purely merit based and looks at your experience. It’s more reflective of how your mindset is and the way you think instead rather than what your grade-point average in high school was, which I appreciate. The whole experience has been incredibly rewarding.”
Dierking said the staff and faculty at the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship has been phenomenal in supporting his Foodski dreams, especially Professor Jay Ebben, whom Dierking calls “super encouraging and supportive.”
"What I find most impressive about Dylan is that he incorporates his core values into all of his pursuits," Ebben said. "He is very thoughtful and mature in this regard, and it will lead to good things for him down the road."
While he’s busy getting Foodski off the ground, Dierking’s looking forward to fall semester classes, which he said will really help him with his plans to expand the business.
“I'm taking business law, I'm taking entrepreneurial strategy, financial management and microeconomics,” he said. “That will be perfect for furthering my knowledge for next summer.”