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August 23, 2021 | Tom Ballard

Founder of Arid Delivery Products knows a thing or two about food delivery

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final article in a series spotlighting the winners in the most recent “Boyd Venture Challenge” hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business. The first article spotlighted Fluffy Friends for Children with Chronic Conditions, the second highlighted BusiCard, and the third was Sleepy Owl Company.) 

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Clay Franklin knows a thing or two about food delivery, having worked for Postmates (now part of Uber), Grubhub, and DoorDash. Couple that with several entrepreneurial ventures starting in high school, and you can understand why he was one of the big winners in the recent “Boyd Venture Challenge” at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK).

As noted in this recent article, Franklin’s Arid Delivery Products was one of two recipients of $10,000 awards each in the competition hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Haslam College of Business.

“My mission is to provide a better product for consumers,” Franklin, a junior finance major from Franklin, told us in a recent interview. “It’s a big, big issue,” explaining the challenge is to keep the “heat as high as possible and the moisture as low as possible.”

Those who have used food delivery services probably fully understand the trade-off – quality for convenience – that Franklin believes can be solved with the “Arid Delivery Bag.”

Obviously sensitive to sharing too much information about his approach before filing for a patent, Franklin did say that he has developed a three-layer system with a prototype that he finished in mid-June. He’s actually conceived and sewn the prototype.

“It doesn’t look fantastic, but it’s getting the desired results,” he says with a laugh.

Explaining that “the on-demand food delivery industry is booming,” Franklin says he wants to move fast. “I plan to develop at least three more prototypes, being thorough in my examination of different materials and their interactions.”

That said, he hopes to be manufacturing a commercial product by Q4 of 2021, starting with a small lot. His focus is as a B2B (business-to-business) company. “Drivers have an inherently minimal willingness-to-pay, making on-demand food delivery companies our primary target,” Franklin explains.

Arid Delivery Products is the latest undertaking from the Michigan native who moved with his family to Middle Tennessee when he was 14 years old. During his junior year at Battle Ground Academy, Franklin founded an apparel company with two classmates that designed and sold apparel. “It was a simple company, though a necessary introduction to entrepreneurship” he says.

In December 2019 as a UTK student, he launched The Dog Park Collective, described on its Facebook page as a “Knoxville-based community that covers everything dog park and dog-related. It is a place where dog-lovers can meet, discuss, share advice, and talk anything else about your pup!” There were more than 750 members when we accessed the site recently.

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