Nolan Kagan ’22 has always been a problem solver. Nolan kept lists of ideas and solutions to everyday problems on his phone for years, only to realize that he had the agency to make those ideas a reality. From there, he knew entrepreneurship was his calling. Nolan graduated high school a year early and attended community college in his hometown of Los Angeles, California before coming to Syracuse University where he is currently pursuing a degree in Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises from the Whitman School of Management. Right now, Nolan’s main focus is Gather: an online platform centered around the use of food as a vessel for communication and connection.
Nolan envisions Gather as a platform with which people in a strange place, whether travelling or having just moved to a new city, can share a homecooked meal and a conversation with someone new. To him, eating dinner together is an integral part of what it feels like to be home. Gather allows the comfort of a dining room table to be carried with you through a network of participants around the world. Nolan wants Gather to provide support and comfort to users and hosts through shared meals.
Of course, a global pandemic creates some tricky obstacles for a venture centered around letting strangers into your home. However, Nolan believes that the current state of the world creates an even more pressing need for people to bond over the most common language of all: food. To this affect, Nolan plans to launch Gather as a recipe sharing service so that connections can still be made over delicious dishes.
Nolan is working with Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at SU Libraries to help bring his idea to life. He participated in several idea competitions this fall which helped his more fully shape his idea and looks forward to continuing to do discovery and development with the LaunchPad this spring.
Throughout the development of Gather, the most difficult thing for Nolan has been to keep motivated. This past semester was really hard for him, and he almost gave up on his idea. However, coming home, he realized it was up to him to direct his free time into his passion. Now, he’s full steam ahead. Gather is about improving the lives of people all around the world. Keeping this in mind has helped Nolan stay on task and push through development of his venture. He hopes to have a recipe sharing service available by the end of this coming semester and the full-fledged meal sharing service running in a year. To market Gather, Nolan will rely on word of mouth, influencers, and travel agencies who will recommend Gather to their clients.
Gather will be extremely easy to use. For meal sharing, hosts will have to go through a vetting process, while guests will be able to make a profile with interests and some fun facts about themselves to start a conversation. In terms of safety precautions, a guest will never be alone with a host, always accompanied at meals with their own travel companions or other guests who are seeking a meal. Hosts will be in charge of their own prices for meals and dishes. The recipe sharing service will also be user friendly. Users will even be able to offer cooking classes for those looking to improve their skills in the kitchen. Nolan himself is starting to cook, hoping to use Gather to expand his repertoire which consists mainly of pasta.
To Nolan, success will come with the first satisfied user who tells him about their meal sharing experience. Hearing that he has facilitated a personal connection for a group of people will be the sign to him that his hard work has paid off. Until then, he is working hard with his advisors and LaunchPad mentors as he gets Gather ready to bring people together. Nolan has a passion for people and believes firmly that cooking and food have the potential to forge connections and community.
Story by Ellen Jorgensen ’23, LaunchPad Orange Ambassador; photo supplied