In mid-2021, Garwing Lai, a first-year master’s student studying entrepreneurship and innovation, was running in his hometown of Arcadia when he bumped into an old high school friend named Andrew Yeh. As they caught up, their conversation evolved into a brainstorm. They wanted to create a business with the potential to serve as many people as possible — eventually coming up with NextPlate.
NextPlate, a start-up company which allows college students and others to buy surplus food at significant discounts from restaurants and bakeries around Los Angeles, aims to reduce food waste and inspire the public to take a stance against the issue. NextPlate also seeks to provide affordable meals for students, especially those struggling with food insecurity. The app, launched in April 2022, currently serves more than 1000 individuals and 20 restaurants in and around the USC area.