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Culver students give suggestions on ways to improve pizza delivery service to campus

Tom Coyne

May 23, 2023

Culver Academies students recommended that a local pizzeria use GPS software that would allow customers to track their orders through a mobile app so they would know precisely when their food will arrive.

Students said the GPS tracking system would allow customers to pick up their pizza in a timelier manner, ensuring neither the students nor the pizza are left waiting in the cold for long periods.

“Online, it always says it will take 45 minutes, but sometimes it is ready in 20 minutes,” said Diego Urtusuastegui ’24 (San Diego). “This leads sometimes to cold food.”

Other suggestions included adding another delivery driver during weekends, improving in-store ambience with music and more “homey” decorations as well as an improved curb appeal with a more eye-catching sign, and improving marketing, such as offering unique promotions.

The suggestions came from students in two Corporate Challenge classes taught by Ed Kelley, a master instructor in The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur. The Corporate Challenge class is rooted in the Harvard Business School case study where students work together with guidance from corporate partners and Culver faculty to provide solutions and assessments for specific challenges facing the corporate partner.

Previous corporate partners include Red Gold, Cummins Inc., and Lauth Communities. Bourbon Street Pizza is the relaunch of the program following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Culver students were presented with three specific challenges facing Bourbon Street Pizza, which has eight locations in northern Indiana, including one in Culver:

  • Use a dashboard rating system of red, yellow, or green to assess Bourbon Street Pizza’s daily financial practices.
  • Make suggestions on ways to improve the customer experience at Bourbon Street Pizza.
  • Find ways to improve Bourbon Street Pizza delivery service to customers at Bourbon Street Pizza by minimizing “external inefficiencies,” such as customers being late to pick up a pizza and other business-to-customer communication.

The student entrepreneurs focused on the pizza delivery problems, noting that while drivers for a competing pizza delivery outlet, which has a delivery van, frequently wait for students to pick up their pizzas, delivery drivers for Bourbon Street Pizza leave pizzas on a bench near Logansport Gate if students aren’t there when the driver arrives.

The students said that while the quality of Bourbon Street Pizza was as good as its competitor, and it was less expensive, many students choose to buy from the competitor because the drivers wait for students so the pizza is more likely to be hot.

Jesse Bohannon, an operating partner at Bourbon Street Pizza, said the pizzeria has a larger delivery radius than its competitor because there is an unmet need in the area, so the drivers don’t have time to wait.

“We drive out as far as we do because those people have no other options,” Bohannon said. “Nobody delivers to them other than us.”

Bourbon Street Pizza CEO Tim Harman said the challenge is to serve the academies better while maintaining its large delivery radius.

“I want to do both. I want to serve the Academy better and keep that market share outside of the Academy,” he said.

Students suggested also giving customers a more accurate estimate of when the pizza would arrive.

“One of the things you helped me see here is that being early is almost as bad as being late,” Bohannon said.

The team of Ansen King, Nik Menendez, and Walter Osowski recommended installing an insulated locker near the Logansport Gate where drivers could deliver food that students could access later. They estimated the cost of the locker would be about $300. 

The students also brought up other obstacles students face.


Culver Academies students in the Corporate Challenge class meet with Bourton Street Pizza operating partner Jesse Bohannon.


Isabel Herrera ’23 (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico) said ordering pizza is a challenge for international students because messaging from Culver area phone numbers often doesn’t work.

“When the driver attempts to text the student, ‘We will be there in five minutes,’ the student won’t receive that message,” she said.

She said international students frequently order using a friend’s phone but might not receive a text from a driver.

Kelley noted that the students talked about giving drivers incentives to be on time.

“So what’s the incentive for the student to be on time?” Kelley asked.

The team of Kennedy Burlison, Parker Kumler and Will Yan offered the suggestion of giving a customer a letter every time they order pizza.

“If they could spell out ‘Bourbon’ with these letters and show the driver, they could maybe get something for free, like a pizza or a dessert. Some sort of incentive to make the customer come back and want to purchase again,” Kumler said.

Harman said he liked the idea.

“It sounds like it would cost hardly any money. I like that,” he said.

Initially, the proposal only incentivized students to be on time when they had spelled out “Bourbon.” But during the discussion, they agreed it would be better to only give students reward letters if they were present when the pizza was delivered.

Another team suggested rewarding a student with a coupon for free bread sticks if they are present four times when pizza is delivered.

Harman said he liked the idea of an app similar to what Uber uses.

“You see that little car start moving (on the app), then you know to get moving,” Harman said.

Students also recommended that Bourbon Street Pizza offer discounts for catering events on campus. They also suggested that they show up on the outside of campus with premade pizzas to sell after an event, such as parade or a show at Eppley Auditorium.

“There is a great opportunity there to sell pizzas between lunchtimes 11:30 to 2,” Sam Trush ’24 said.

J.D. Uebler, director of The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur, told the students that when making suggestions, such as adding another driver, they must determine how much that is going to cost.

“That’s a whole other element to being able to present a solution that somebody is going to actually believe as a viable solution,” he said. “It means providing the full analysis of the suggested solutions.”


Students in the Corporate Challenge class at Culver Academies present their ideas to Bourbon Street Pizza executives.

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