Computer science major Brian Zable ’14 isn’t sure how he’ll use his technology expertise for his future career. He does know that he already prefers collaborating with entrepreneurs who are flexible and open to new ideas. “I like creativity and freedom,” he says. “And I want to talk to people in person rather than use email.”
Currently, he’s pairing his technology skills with another passion—gardening. Looking for websites to manage gardens and garden produce, he found a project called Every Last Morsel. It was founded by Todd Jones of Elmhurst, IL, and business partner Collin Bourdage ’07, also of Elmhurst, who majored in computer science at North Central and helped program the initial version of the website, everylastmorsel.com.
The goal is to help gardeners find buyers for excess produce in a virtual “farmer’s market” while also building a community of urban agriculturists, backyard gardeners and local food enthusiasts. “I immediately offered to work with them,” says Zable. “Since then I have been helping with their mobile applications, which has been a wonderful learning experience.”
As farmers and buyers connect on the website, Every Last Morsel takes a small fraction of the sale. “This is unsustainable as sellers and buyers leave the web out of the picture,” says Zable. “The plan is to build tools that growers would pay for.”
Every Last Morsel has received funding from Coolhouse Labs, based in Harbor Springs, MI, allowing Jones and Bourdage to participate in a 10-week summer program through Coolhouse for mentoring, networking and technology “perks” to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial ideas.
Zable has also been involved with a garden project through Earth Data: Hackathon, which was sponsored by the City of Chicago to increase sustainability through data analysis. He won second prize for his website concept mapping vacant lots that could be converted into food gardens. He completed that project in late summer.
He’s been able to apply his liberal arts and traditional computer science courses to creative, entrepreneurial opportunities. “The technologies we learn aren’t what you’d use for starting a company—but you do learn how to learn technologies that work for mobile applications and websites.”