A quick and inexpensive meal, with a view
James Doyle was scanning an online discussion board on Slickdeals.net when he saw a posting about the Build Your Own Virtual Subway Global Challenge.
Being both a fan of Subway sandwiches and of online challenges, Doyle decided to put his skills to the test.
So the Wesley Chapel 24-year-old got busy building his own virtual Subway store, calling his marketing concept “Fastview.”
“It involves rebranding some of the Subway stores they have now, and also creating new Subway stores and using the brand, Fastview,” Doyle said. And Fastview is “eating fast food with a view.”
For his “virtual” location, Doyle chose the St. Petersburg Pier — which was still open when the contest was running. However, Doyle said his concept could work anywhere where there’s a great view.
Normally, places that offer a good view are too pricey for restaurants offering an inexpensive dining option. But there are deals to be had in this challenging economy, and there may be some great sites available, said Doyle, an information technology graduate of University of South Florida who minted in entrepreneurship.
The judges liked his marketing idea, said Doyle, who also credited his experience as an online entrepreneur for helping him to be one of five grand-prize winners in the competition. That was out of 1,600 contestants from 90 countries around the globe.
Doyle was the sole U.S. winner. Other winners were a Ph.D. candidate from Austria, a social media consultant from India, an industrial design student from Brazil, and an architect and Internet entrepreneur from Greece.
“My whole goal was to get traffic to my site,” Doyle said. “I’ve been an entrepreneur online for awhile. I know how to get my links out there.”
Doyle has been buying and selling domain names, and was also a high-volume seller on eBay in his teens. His online know-how helped him earn and save enough money to buy the house he owns in Wesley Chapel.
For the Subway challenge, he racked up more than $100,000 in virtual sales, with some of those sales reflecting rewards he received for successfully completing business challenges. The rest was for selling “virtual” sandwiches, he said.
Although he was at the top of the leaderboard in terms of sales, Doyle said that was just one of the criteria that judges used to select winners.
“They wanted different ideas, different concepts. They wanted something creative,” he said.
By being in the top five, Doyle won a trip to New York City and Washington, D.C., where he saw such sites as Ground Zero, the Empire State Building, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. He even saw President Barack Obama’s motorcade pass by.
He also made a daylong visit to Milford, Conn., the headquarters of Subway, where they had the chance to meet company executives, learn how Subway’s franchise operation works, see how the stores are designed and even visit the test kitchen.
There’s one company perk that Doyle said he knows he’d enjoy.
“At lunch time, they have a free lunch for everyone, all of the time, every day,” Doyle said. “You can just fix your own sub. They have all the meats laid out. They have different bread.”
He typically eats a Subway sandwich once or twice a week. It’s always a ham foot-long, with all of the fixings but the peppers.
When he wants to switch things up, he varies the bread and the sauces.
Winning the competition and visiting Subway’s headquarters gave Doyle a new appreciation for the company.
“Beforehand, I knew I loved their subs,” he said. “Did I know any of the background behind Subway? Not so much.”
He was impressed, especially, by the people he met.
“It was more family-oriented than I expected,” Doyle said. “Everyone there was so warm and welcoming.”