Food online: Anti-Groupon and crowd-sourcing to the perfect dish
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.
-- Tiffany Hsu
Photo: Jar, one of the restaurants included on Treatful. Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times