Alumni-founded Budeli Promotes Visibility and Acceptance for LGBTQIA+ Entrepreneurs
Busy family schedules, after-school activities, jam-packed work days, and DMV traffic—those are just a few reasons to turn to a delivery service for a weekday dinner or a way to enhance a cozy evening at home on a stormy Saturday.
Budeli, a food delivery service built around the concept of saving money and fuel on the road, is no stranger to the scenarios that make accessible and convenient food options essential to daily life on the go.
The company’s CEO and co-founder, Carlos Bello (MBA’22), created Budeli with the goal of breaking down additional financial barriers of traditional food delivery services. Today, Budeli charges a two dollar delivery fee, which accounts for the company’s food transportation costs to select apartment buildings, commercial properties, and other designated delivery locations.
“People will start placing their orders in the morning once they get to the office. We [Budeli] will offer a healthier option for delivery that day, maybe a place that serves salads, or something that feels a bit higher in flavor, maybe Thai or Indian. We also always have a classic option available for people who are looking for a sandwich at lunch,” Bello said.
The food delivery options rotate daily across about three dozen restaurants in Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia. Bello said Budeli is getting ready to move into the Bethesda, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., markets as well.
As a former chef, Bello has always been interested in the culinary world, but it wasn’t until his time at Georgetown that he came up with the idea for Budeli. While on the Hilltop, Bello, along with his classmate, Jinsung Bach (MBA’22) participated in Bark Tank 2022 and won $10,000 for their pitch. Budeli also participated in Georgetown Venture Lab’s 2022 cohort of the Georgetown Startup Accelerator (GSA).
“Academically, Georgetown gave me the toolkit to form the idea and the confidence to try this entrepreneurial venture in the first place. As a school, Georgetown does a great job in creating a launchpad for people who are leaving the MBA program. For me, it was a bit scary to not go into a high-paying job right away—albeit consulting or finance. Instead, I was given the support of mentors who provided a sense of courage to go down this entrepreneurial path.”
One of Bellos’ mentors from Georgetown is Jeff Reid, founding director and professor of the practice at Georgetown Entrepreneurship. Reid spoke highly of Bellos’ ability to turn Budeli from an idea to a successful business platform that continues to evolve and adapt to best serve customers in the D.C. region.
“I have really enjoyed watching Carlos be his true self and pursue his entrepreneurial dreams, and we are all proud of the progress he is making with Budeli,” Reid said. “It’s inspiring for me to see him turn his entrepreneurial passion into a growing business and I am happy to see him making an impact right here in our community.”
While at McDonough, Bello also was a leader of Out@MSB, a student organization for LGBTQIA+ students enrolled in the MBA program. Bello remains passionate about creating a visible LGBTQIA+ space for entrepreneurs.
“Out@MSB is crucial to creating meaningful visibility on campus. At a university like Georgetown, which can be very internationally focused, people have to realize how important recognized visibility might be for a lot of different international communities.”
Through his work at Budeli, Bello hopes to create space for conversations that promote visibility and acceptance within the diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem. When he’s not working on growing and promoting Budeli, Bello is involved with StartOut—a global nonprofit organization determined to increase visibility and the socioeconomic impact of LGBTQIA+ identifying entrepreneurs.
“Being able to say ‘hey, I’m gay’ is such a huge step for so many people. I had to go through that myself, growing up in southern Indiana. And, if you’re an older adult from a country that doesn’t have this sense of openness within its culture, the visibility component within our communities today is even more massive for personal growth.”
During Pride Month, Bello said there often are big summits and pitch competitions that cater to the LGBTQIA+ community that might not be as prevalent during other points of the year.
“The other aspect of creating visibility is acting on it and creating legitimate support. There are a lot of disenfranchised identities in so many different types of communities. The whole point of Pride Month is to sustain visibility and recognize it by saying ‘yes, we’re creating this space, but now, can we actually do something about it?’”
As for Budeli’s next steps, Bello explained that the company is looking to close its pre-seed round in the near future. While the company has raised about $150,000 through the support of angel investors and partners within the Georgetown community, Bello is eager to grow the financial backbone of the company and continue to expand Budeli’s services and scope.
In the meantime, Bello is thrilled to have turned his personal passion of cooking and entrepreneurship into a full-time job; simultaneously supporting those who are working in the service and hospitality industries alike.
“At my core, through the work of Budeli, I’m happy that a young chef can make more money and that a new delivery driver is going to be paid more by working more efficiently for their money and time. We’re also moving climate issues in the right direction by getting more delivery drivers off the road and doing our Budeli deliveries in bulk.”