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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Meals on Wheels
Eric Tjahyadi, Revelle '05

Have you founded a company? Worked at a company started by a UCSD alum? We want to know.†
Drop us a note

Launched in January 2010, Komodo has taken LA’s booming food truck scene by storm, serving up its own inventive brand of “dangerously good food”—street food with a gourmet twist. What started as a side business for five friends/partners, including Eric Tjahyadi, Revelle ’05, has expanded rapidly.

In just over one year, the business has gone from zero to 10 employees and from one to two roaming mobile trucks covering LA and Orange County. To spread the word, Tjahyadi has purposely targeted locations and events with affluent foodies in creative settings and has generated successful synergies with the entertainment community, from feeding the cast and crew of Mad Men and Entourage on-set to catering backstage at this year’s Golden Globe awards.

“It came about as an accident. We didn’t expect to own a business during a recession,” says Tjahyadi. “It was completely uncharted territory for us.”

Tjahyadi and his four partners funded the enterprise themselves with $150,000 in original capital—$110,000 for the truck and $40,000 to cover kitchen equipment, rentals, permits and other expenses. After operating for just five months, the team was able to purchase a second truck with the consolidation of their monthly profits. In 2010, Komodo earned approximately $800,000 in gross income—70 percent coming from catering and private events. It hopes to double that in 2011 with the recent opening of its first storefront in West LA.

Tjahyadi oversees the business side of things, from PR/marketing, design and event planning to finances and daily operations. A double major in Visual Arts/ICAM and Communication, Tjahyadi attributes Komodo’s rapid success to the power of marketing, networking and creating buzz.

“We look at food and art as interrelated,” says Tjahyadi. His brother Erwin is Komodo’s head chef, who uses local, seasonal produce in his own unique blend of French cuisine and Asian fusion, keeping the menu fresh and letting the ingredients speak for themselves.

Tjahyadi is contemplating the possible extension of Komodo to San Diego, in addition to doing more sit-down dining restaurant/bar experiences. “Running my own business has always been my dream,” says Tjahyadi.

óClaire Caraska, Marshall ’02