Mohamed Merzouk

The Delivery Guy
Former Pace University student, Mohamed Merzouk

Seamless, Postmates, Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, Caviar. Gone are the days of calling a restaurant, placing an order for delivery, and rummaging through drawers for the exact dollar amount. Now it’s all a couple of clicks on your phone and you can track your meal from prep to delivery. While food delivery has gotten easier, it hasn’t gotten cheaper. In fact, many restaurants charge more for delivery orders than in-house purchases. And several apps apply surge pricing during peak hours as well as variable percentage-based service fees to purchases. Recognizing this disparity, Mohamed Merzouk ’16 turned an everyday issue into an opportunity.

A native of Algeria, Merzouk studied business management at EHEC Algiers before heading overseas to pursue a graduate degree. While many Algerians continue their studies in Europe, Merzouk had decided after visiting New York City and Miami, FL, in 2009 that he wanted to return to America.

“I had to come back to go to school and live the American dream,” he recalls. “I always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur. I just didn’t expect it to happen this early. I thought I would work for a few years and establish myself in the business world first.”

Initially, Merzouk attended a small school in Fairfax, Virginia. After one semester, he spent the summer in New York City, and never looked back. In New York, he attended Laguardia Community College in Queens, NY, for one year to hone his English skills, then applied to Pace where he entered the Lubin School of Business’ MS in Investment Management program. At Pace, he gained confidence in his English and interpersonal abilities.

“The Office of Student Development and Campus Activities (SDACA) hired me as a graduate assistant. I had studied business management and had some experience, and Whitney Brown liked my resume,” Merzouk says. “I was still shy about speaking English, but I was trusted by Pace and by SDACA. Soon, I was speaking with students on a daily basis about their budgets and event requests. We had weekly meetings where we discussed what we were working on. Our ideas were sought out, and I can’t tell you how often I made a suggestion and they implemented one of my ideas.”

As a hardworking graduate student, Merzouk often had a late lunch between working in the SDACA office and heading off to class. He realized that even though he was ordering his lunch during off-peak hours, he was still paying peak prices from online providers.

“I spotted this inefficiency,” says Merzouk. “Something told me I should keep working on it. I talked to my brother and other students, and they agreed with the overall idea of discounts and off-peak pricing.”

When it was time to graduate, Merzouk heard stories about how difficult it was to secure a job in finance.

“I heard of people spending 60 hours per week just applying for jobs,” he recalls. At the same time, the idea of Gebni became more realistic as he received validation from people around him. “The desire to solve the issue that Gebni addresses for myself and possibly others who thought like me, combined with the fact that I was going to spend a lot of time applying for jobs online I wasn’t sure I was going to like, made me decide to give Gebni a shot. I decided to take things into my own hands and hired a freelancer to design an app that allowed restaurants to discount a few items so we could test our concept.”

Restaurants and users both wanted the app, and soon Merzouk’s brother, a mobile software developer, came on board as the co-founder of Gebni (pronounced Jeb-knee), which means “bring me” in Arabic. The app, available on both Apple and Android devices, acts like the stock market, offering demand-adjusted prices for restaurant takeout orders, which makes it more affordable for users. By applying dynamic pricing, prices are discounted during hours of low demand and adjusted when demand is high. The user never pays more than the item's regular full price.

Gebni launched in early 2017 after nine months of testing and now covers more than 700 restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, with more on the way. Since launching, Gebni has gained major buzz, with features in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Observer, Food & Wine, among others.

“I learned everything about the financial markets during my time at Lubin,” says Merzouk, who notes adjunct professor Keith Weissman and Associate Professor and Finance Department Chair Natalia Gershun as inspirations. “That later provided the inspiration and foundation for Gebni’s demand-adjusted pricing approach to restaurant meals.”

Learn more about Gebni and download the app to get started.

Former Pace University student, Mohamed Merzouk

Seamless, Postmates, Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, Caviar. Gone are the days of calling a restaurant, placing an order for delivery, and rummaging through drawers for the exact dollar amount. Now it’s all a couple of clicks on your phone and you can track your meal from prep to delivery. While food delivery has gotten easier, it hasn’t gotten cheaper. In fact, many restaurants charge more for delivery orders than in-house purchases. And several apps apply surge pricing during peak hours as well as variable percentage-based service fees to purchases. Recognizing this disparity, Mohamed Merzouk ’16 turned an everyday issue into an opportunity.

A native of Algeria, Merzouk studied business management at EHEC Algiers before heading overseas to pursue a graduate degree. While many Algerians continue their studies in Europe, Merzouk had decided after visiting New York City and Miami, FL, in 2009 that he wanted to return to America.

“I had to come back to go to school and live the American dream,” he recalls. “I always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur. I just didn’t expect it to happen this early. I thought I would work for a few years and establish myself in the business world first.”

Initially, Merzouk attended a small school in Fairfax, Virginia. After one semester, he spent the summer in New York City, and never looked back. In New York, he attended Laguardia Community College in Queens, NY, for one year to hone his English skills, then applied to Pace where he entered the Lubin School of Business’ MS in Investment Management program. At Pace, he gained confidence in his English and interpersonal abilities.

“The Office of Student Development and Campus Activities (SDACA) hired me as a graduate assistant. I had studied business management and had some experience, and Whitney Brown liked my resume,” Merzouk says. “I was still shy about speaking English, but I was trusted by Pace and by SDACA. Soon, I was speaking with students on a daily basis about their budgets and event requests. We had weekly meetings where we discussed what we were working on. Our ideas were sought out, and I can’t tell you how often I made a suggestion and they implemented one of my ideas.”

As a hardworking graduate student, Merzouk often had a late lunch between working in the SDACA office and heading off to class. He realized that even though he was ordering his lunch during off-peak hours, he was still paying peak prices from online providers.

“I spotted this inefficiency,” says Merzouk. “Something told me I should keep working on it. I talked to my brother and other students, and they agreed with the overall idea of discounts and off-peak pricing.”

When it was time to graduate, Merzouk heard stories about how difficult it was to secure a job in finance.

“I heard of people spending 60 hours per week just applying for jobs,” he recalls. At the same time, the idea of Gebni became more realistic as he received validation from people around him. “The desire to solve the issue that Gebni addresses for myself and possibly others who thought like me, combined with the fact that I was going to spend a lot of time applying for jobs online I wasn’t sure I was going to like, made me decide to give Gebni a shot. I decided to take things into my own hands and hired a freelancer to design an app that allowed restaurants to discount a few items so we could test our concept.”

Restaurants and users both wanted the app, and soon Merzouk’s brother, a mobile software developer, came on board as the co-founder of Gebni (pronounced Jeb-knee), which means “bring me” in Arabic. The app, available on both Apple and Android devices, acts like the stock market, offering demand-adjusted prices for restaurant takeout orders, which makes it more affordable for users. By applying dynamic pricing, prices are discounted during hours of low demand and adjusted when demand is high. The user never pays more than the item's regular full price.

Gebni launched in early 2017 after nine months of testing and now covers more than 700 restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, with more on the way. Since launching, Gebni has gained major buzz, with features in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Observer, Food & Wine, among others.

“I learned everything about the financial markets during my time at Lubin,” says Merzouk, who notes adjunct professor Keith Weissman and Associate Professor and Finance Department Chair Natalia Gershun as inspirations. “That later provided the inspiration and foundation for Gebni’s demand-adjusted pricing approach to restaurant meals.”

Learn more about Gebni and download the app to get started.