Following his December commencement, Sanders will be focusing on launching Eatery, his startup food discovery mobile app
When Kyle Sanders was 11 years old, his family relocated from Georgia to Southern California to take ownership of the Toko Rame Indonesian Restaurant, a small family diner his mother inherited when her parents retired. The opportunity gave the future Anteater his first job and a front row seat to the ups and downs of small business ownership. The aspiring entrepreneur is now putting these lessons learned into the launch of Eatery, a mobile app that makes personalized, budget-friendly, and healthy recommendations for dining out. As he gets ready to graduate this quarter, the business economics major shares more about the inspiration behind his career plans and drive to complete his degree.
What interests you most about your major in business economics at UCI?
Coming into UC Irvine, I began as an undecided major. I was working down the engineering route and quickly realized that was not the pathway for me. I was quite good at the mathematics associated with the major and decided to continue pursuing that. When I ran into a wall on my upper division math courses, I realized that I had an interest in finance. I understood that I was not going to be able to continue as a math major with the heavy theoretical load the last few years, so I switched to business economics based on my interest in math finance and my willingness to learn more about managerial classes like accounting and corporate finance. What interests me most about economics is the application of data analysis that the major truly prepares you for. Economics is synonymous with data science, a field that I was always interested in, and the major allowed me to continue that interest as well.
What are your post-commencement plans?
When I graduate, I have numerous corporate offers from the internships I had done during my undergrad. Having offers as a marketing analyst at Nissan and a sales engineer at Siemens, I have a variety of career options that I want to pursue. But, during my last year at UC Irvine, I have begun my entrepreneurial journey with my startup, Eatery – a food discovery mobile app that combines the best of Yelp and MyFitnessPal into one. Meant for eating out, Eatery will allow anybody to find healthy and budget friendly options when they go out to eat. Just like how UCI’s Anteatery saved me many times when I was a broke, hungry college student, I want to change the world for many others by spreading Eatery. And because of the different food options that I had on a daily basis, the name of the Eatery inspired my company. Having competed in UCI’s NVC and Beall and Butterworth competitions, the Eatery team and I have slowly refined and prepared our mobile app for launch. With these offers in hand, I plan to go all in on the startup during my hiatus to start dates, to test the viability of the application and what traction we might have. From there, I will choose based on the metrics that I have set to leave, the options between returning to corporate or diving deeper into entrepreneurship.
What’s inspired your planned career path?
Growing up, my family moved from Atlanta, GA to California on the whim of owning a restaurant. The restaurant was “Toko Rame Indonesian Restaurant” in Bellflower, CA. The restaurant was inherited from my mom’s parents as they were retiring and moving back to Indonesia. The restaurant taught me many things about hard work and dedication. The restaurant was a small family restaurant that many would consider a hole in the wall. We were not rich and it was extremely obvious growing up as we ate much of our takeout from the restaurant. But, it ended up being my first job at 16 years old, it saved our livelihoods as we were able to support ourselves during COVID, and it taught me many lessons about grit, owning a business and hard work. As I go to UCI today, I am forever grateful that I received the Pell Grant because my family endured owning that small family business. After 27 years in our family, it was a sad day to see the restaurant sold from the family’s possession. But as I graduate college and dive into entrepreneurship myself, Toko Rame will be a testament of how far I have come. Someday, if I make it big, I hope to open the restaurant under my name with my rules and to make it as successful as possible and make the taste of Indonesia spread across LA.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment at UCI?
One of my proudest accomplishments was serving as treasurer for my fraternity. Having come into the role post COVID, I was immediately given the burden of chapter debt that neared $20,000. Over the course of my time as treasurer, with devised planning and chapter work to maintain involvement and payment for dues, I was able to eliminate the debt burden during my tenure. While the chapter has had a variety of issues beyond the money situation, I was able to successfully coordinate our annual Vegas trip, pay off the debt 20k entirely, and set the chapter up with 90% due payments when I had finished.
Since my tenure as the treasurer for my fraternity, I have moved on toward entrepreneurial involvements on campus. I have participated in UCI’s New Venture Competition and Beall and Butterworth competitions. I have pitched at numerous events, supported the teams with setting up and cleaning and have used the ANTrepreneur Center and their amazing staff very heavily. I was also involved in the ARC staffing. As an avid gymgoer, I had always sought the opportunity to work for the ARC. I was able to receive an interview and work consistently for over a year. I loved the community of ARC staff and the environment that I was in.
Where can you most often be found on campus?
I can be found daily at the UCI ARC. If I am not working out in the morning or sometime late into the evening, I could be found working at one of Fitlab or Wellness Lab. The ARC has been a fundamental experience that I will forever miss when I leave UCI. The ARC has allowed me to make numerous friends from my time working there or just when I would be working out. Alongside the facility’s great weight rooms and set up, the ARC allowed me to survey for my start up and potentially booth for our target audience gym bros!
What’s your best memory thus far from your undergraduate Anteater experience?
One of my favorite memories at UCI was a painting date that I had with my girlfriend during my summer of junior year. Marley had never seen the inside of UCI’s campus, specifically Aldrich Park. We sat on the beautiful lawn on a sunny day, with all the flowers and trees blooming. This is one of my fondest memories as I have these paintings hung on my wall in my room to this day. We soaked in the sun, had our cheese board, and enjoyed our delightful day.