Mike LaVitola ’09 Co-Founder and CEO of Foxtrot Ventures

LavitolaMike LaVitola ’09 isn’t wasting any time. He’s still a semester away from graduation from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and he’s already co-founded and assumed the role of CEO of startup, Foxtrot Ventures which “delivers drinks, eats and corner store necessities from your iPhone to your door in minutes”. I recently read an article titled something along the lines of “Five Questions to ask to know if you have a killer business idea”. Here’s how Mike responded to these questions… and a few more:

What inspired you to start Foxtrot?

Foxtrot was a service I wanted to see in the market and was shocked that it didn’t exist. As I think we can all relate, after a long day of work all I wanted was my favorite items (like a 6 pack of beer and some chips and dip) to magically show up at my door, and no such service existed.

What does Foxtrot actually do?

Foxtrot is a mobile app that curates a menu of beer, wine, spirits, fresh foods and essentials, and delivers them to your door in an under an hour. We work to find the best items and brands around, and then make getting those items to your door as easy as possible.

Who and what is your biggest competition… biggest threats to your success?

Our biggest competition at this point is customers deciding to get off their couch or out of the office and going to the store themselves. As we have seen thus far however, if you give customers an extremely simple service with a great selection of products, they are more than willing to leave the hard work to you. Traditional online grocers like Peapod and Instacart stock tens of thousands of items and are a nightmare to navigate, especially on mobile. By simplifying the menu, using technology to curate the menu to your specific tastes and preferences and providing on-demand delivery, we are growing a customer base of dedicated users.

How will Foxtrot make money… where’s the leverage to scale?

Foxtrot is a scalable platform that leverages existing brick and mortar stores for inventory and third party delivery services. So, we do not buy goods or incur delivery costs until a customer has already paid us (customer account information is store in the app a la Uber). We have a two prong revenue approach, goods and marketing. Principally, we make money on the spread between the price we source inventory at and the price we sell at. Secondly, we can offer brands a highly targeted marketing platform on our “Today” page, and we are piloting this concept with brands like MillerCoors.

How will you measure Foxtrot’s success?

Growth, growth, growth. Ultimately customer growth and adoption will drive revenue and expansion, we measure our success by new customer acquisition and repeat purchase rate.

Moving on from Foxtrot… tell us a little bit about your family… where you are living… what do you do for fun?

I am the oldest of my parents six boys, two of whom are also Gamma Zeta’s (Jay ’12, Domenic ’16), and we grew up in the north suburb of Lake Forest. After moving to Austin, Texas after undergrad, I moved back to Chicago in 2012 to attend business school at the University of Chicago.

Do you stay in touch with your Gamma Zeta brothers? If so, who do you see most frequently?

I do indeed. Moving back to Chicago has certainly made that easier, but we are an active group with many dinners and bar nights planned over our ATO group email. We have our first ATO bachelor party coming up this spring (Anesti Dhima), and I am looking forward to seeing most of the class there.

What prompted you to pledge ATO?

Many friends a few years older than me from high school pledged ATO, and I got to see their experience first hand when I visited during my senior year. After meeting many of my future pledge brothers during rush, I couldn’t imagine joining another house.

How was your Gamma Zeta experience? What are some of your favorite memories of your time at 1101?

My Gamma Zeta experience was an amazing one, so much so that I’ve convinced two younger brothers (thus far) to join the house as well. Fall and spring days playing basketball and grilling out on the patio were always good ones, as well any event that featured a concert on the front lawn. Walkout down to New Orleans with the seniors and pledges an amazing trip as well.

Finally, how can Gamma Zeta’s help you succeed? and… what’s the code for the Gamma Zeta discount?

The lessons you learn about having confidence and conviction in yourself and in doing the right thing are great lessons that can carry you in whatever you ultimately choose to do. And (as many have already taken advantage), promo codes “Taus” always gets you free delivery!


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