What kind of restaurant search experience do you look for?
There is certainly no shortage of web-based restaurant social review and recommendation platforms. The first generation of these sites, such as Yelp and Chow, tend to focus on content heavy reviews.
EatDrink.It, a newcomer to the scene, is trying its hand at using the Foursquare API to help you remember and discover great meals at the restaurants you checkin at. This second generation review site underscores a larger trend toward simplifying and socializing the search experience, using features such as like or dislike buttons and 80 character twitter reviews. Additionally, these simple features create some very easily aggregated and marketable consumer feedback data, potentially creating new revenue streams for such sites.
Co-founder and President Andrew Kirk speaks with me about the app and their business model.
Andrew Kirk: EatDrink.it was born out of Startup Weekend Indianapolis in November 2010. The inspiration originally was based on remembering great meals specific to restaurants. This concept was soon expanded to provide a social aspect, by adding community feedback to users, based on liked/disliked meal reviews. We hate the idea of spending money dining out, only to be disappointed by the food choice.
DG: How does the app work?
AK: It is a mobile web app, accessible from a mobile device or PC browser at www.eatdrink.it, built on top of the Foursquare API. The app automatically locates your current location and provides a list of local restaurants. Users select a restaurant and leave meal-specific reviews with simple “Like” or “Dislike” buttons. All reviews are stored in a user’s profile for future reference. Other users’ review activity is readily available to provide meal-specific recommendations. In addition, social media features of the app allow users to automatically check-in on foursquare at a restaurant upon review completion and/or tweet a review to Twitter followers.
DG: What is your business model?
AK: We are currently exploring a variety of business development opportunities. One would include working with a strategic partner to offer value-added services, such as coupons or deals to users at restaurants. Another option would be to package aggregate review data and market these results back to restaurants, who are always looking for further customer experience feedback. However, we would never sell user information or do anything to taint the authenticity of the review data.
DG: What challenges have you faced with launching the app and attracting users?
AK: Launching the app under very quick time line forced us to initially create the app using HTML5 and some users have experienced less than stellar functionality. We’re currently developing a native iPhone app, with plans for Android and other mobile OS underway. In addition, we’re putting the final touches on our upgrade to the Foursquare API version 2, which will provide great restaurant searchability.
DG: Could you tell me briefly about your team?
Ak: Our team consists of five co-founders with the following division of responsibilities: IT Development Manager, Product Development Manager, Business Development Manager, Marketing/Promotion Manager, and an Advisor. Our collective previous experiences include creating several IT Startup companies, holding an academic appointment at Indiana University, serving as an internet advertising and marketing analyst at ChaCha, a user interface designer at DIRECTV, an Indiana University Kelley MBA student, and more.