Money & Company

Tracking the market and economic trends
that shape your finances.

« Previous Post | Money & Company Home | Next Post »

Food online: Anti-Groupon and crowd-sourcing to the perfect dish

December 23, 2011 | 10:01 am


In the run-up to the new year, several food analysts have predicted that the restaurant industry will be more crowd-sourced and digitally based in 2012 than ever before.

Take the growing crop of young online start-ups focused on dining.

Smartphone app Foodspotting goes beyond the Yelp model by giving restaurant guests a forum to find and recommend specific dishes nearby. Good eats get a “nom” or a digital blue ribbon from diners, who can upload photos into the Foodspotting community.

As of August, the app has been downloaded more than a million times. According to AdWeek, the founders are now experimenting with partnerships with other start-ups such as deals site Scoutmob that could create a “virtual blackboard” showcasing daily specials from eateries.

There’s also Treatful, a Bay Area company that offers personalized online gift certificates to high-end restaurants in cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

The site, started by Stanford business school graduates Brent Looney and Hoon Kim, is known as the anti-Groupon, according to 7x7 magazine. Users no longer have to pick up or use fax machines for hard-copy gift cards –- instead, the no-registration, no-fee site sends it via e-mail on whatever date designated by the customer. 

The company charges restaurants a commission for each certificate purchased -– a quarter of which are bought by corporate clients. Listed eateries in Los Angeles include Angelini Osteria, BLD, Jar and Hatfield’s Restaurants.

Foodily, a recipe and ingredient search engine that launched in February, clocked more than 100,000 downloads within 10 days of launching its iPhone app this fall.


Online pizza sales break records as mobile ordering takes off

LivingSocial launches online restaurant ordering, delivery service

Restaurant predictions for 2012: Popcorn, pine needles, smartphones

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Jar, one of the restaurants included on Treatful. Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times