Working on a mobile application to help people make informed decisions considering their food requirements.
Choosing places to dine-in as (or when accompanied with) a vegan, or people having specific dietary requirements (e.g. halal, gluten free etc) can be difficult. Our venture aims to help people, especially travelers that have dietary requirements find better food choices at local restaurants which will enable restaurants to tap into new customer segments.
Our initial solution that we validated and are testing further is that people would prefer to view suggestions or listing of top-rated menu items that satisfy their dietary needs rather than suggested restaurants (which is conveniently available on most of the food apps). We’ve got around 25 signups by sharing a post about the project on vegan and halal food groups in Canberra on Facebook in 3 days and more than 250 engagements on our posts. We’ve also talked to five restaurants that have shown interest to sign up with our application and provide feedback to develop the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). We would be launching a working MVP based on the feedback of our user tests that will be work in Canberra Market, and then rolled out nationwide. The future product will enable crowd-sourcing data that will allow scalability and growth.
Our team members have had first-experiences where they faced this problem and didn’t find a solution available. Jeremy and Georgie have strong connections in young Canberra community and restaurants. Jeremy also runs a Trivia business organising trivia events in Canberra and secured some restaurant sponsorships for Burgmann Resident Association in his role as a VP. Musb and Atif both have experience working in hospitality industry and have studied Information Systems. Atif also has two-year work experience with a digital company and owned a restaurant, has strong graphic design, data analysis and marketing skills. He also has research/user-experience testing skills that will helped us build, measure and learn from quick experiments. We’ve partnered with a software development company (Square 63) that will help us develop the MVP, provide us with development resources as needed and match the grant funding we receive from IACT Program as an investment for the project.
We require mentorship and funding for conducting idea and usability testing ($1000), developing MVP ($5000-7500), covering our minimal administration ($660/co-working space costs, $240 Fuel and traveling for visiting restaurants) and promotional costs ($1000-1500 – Social Media and Flyers) for 3 months. Our revenue stream would be in-app advertising for users and subscription-based pricing for businesses.
The people who have dietary requirements find it most difficult to navigate and find relevant information about food when they dine out. One major instance is when they travel to a new city and find it hard to find relevant options.
Our team is proposing a solution to build an app that will allow them to quickly navigate through the available options and find food items around them that are relevant to them and find ratings. They would also be able to connect with their friends who might have relevant tastes/requirements and see what food items they have reviewed.
1. User Case: Food Requirements Filter
Customer Segment: People with Dietary Requirements
Find listing of food items that satisfy their food requirements near their location.
– Pains: Consumers face difficulty currently to find food that is suitable for them. There are a lot of apps that tell you ratings about the restaurants around you, but currently we didn’t find any application with significant data on their platform that has filters for food requirements.
– Gains: They will be able to select filters, allergies and see relevant options to make their dining out decisions
2. User Case: Social Connectivity
Customer Segment: Foodies, People with Dietary Requirements
Pains: Its common to have people in your network that have common food requirements/tastes. They fail to find information about food that people are eating/reviewing in their social network. Currently, they would go on forums to solicit that information and would have to wait for the responses.
Gains: Our solution will allow them to access that information about their network, what their friends had, what they liked the most and etc on the run and would be available to them to make better decisions
3. User Case: Targeted Marketing
Customer Segment: Restaurants:
Pains: Restaurant owners fail to market to their niche segments especially with their new additions to their menus
Gains: The restaurants will gain from the marketing platform by targeting relevant customers with their new additions. People who own restaurants and have changed their suppliers to Halal suppliers can target customers of that segment directly.
The customers use different applications/website to make their decisions
– Vegans use Happy Cow app to find relevant information and offerings. There is still a small number of restaurants that are on the platform and the features are still limited, so there is still an opportunity to grow and capture the market. They also use Vegan Forums and groups on Facebook to make decisions.
– Halal – People mostly use google to find relevant options, or tripadvisor. There are a few applications out there like Zabihah but their user experience can still be improved and competed against.
– Foodies – Apart from Google, Trip advisor and Yelp, there is a significant number of applications out there, Zomato being the biggest one with the highest number of users and the most friendly application to use. However, they are not useful for filtering food based on allergies and food requirements.
Being a food application, our idea is born global. The strategy of execution might take a sequential process but since it caters to requirements that are common to find in people all around the world, this application would have the potential to expand globally.
In the first MVP, we are trying to register and add data of Canberra (about 300 restaurants) and Sydney (about 3000) restaurants, while trying to get some clients on board as well. Once the system is built correctly, we could then go on to develop it and expand it nationwide. For the first six months of the launch, we would ideally be targeting to surpass 500,000 thousand downloads.
Moreover, although the initial MVP will try to figure out a solution for the problems that people with dietary requirements face and help them in decision making, the next phase would be to gamify the user experience by involving engaged members to compete and become top critics/contributors in their communities. They would be able to score points, while restaurant partners will be engaged to provide these contributors with rewards.
People with dietary requirements struggle a lot when deciding where to dine out. The lack of dietary and other relevant information about the menu of restaurants make it harder for these customers to choose venue and dishes. This often results in customers making the safest choice (e.g. Chips) rather than the best choice (e.g. Rocket Salad with Grilled Aubergine).
By making the menu items more informative and accessible, and by providing relevant information that people with specific dietary requirements need, we will be able to better serve customers and at the same time increase the restaurant’s Sale per ticket.
At this stage, we have a few hypothesis we want to test out before we finalise the crucial, desired, optional and luxury features of the application that we could work with for an initial MVP. After doing some customer validation and interviews, we have narrowed down the categories we want to focus (Vegans, Gluten intolerant, Muslims (Halal Food), Egg/Tomato intolerant) and have realised that the best use case of the application will be during their travel to new places.
The key stakeholders of this project will be restaurants that have diverse menu options or a niche menu targeting people with dietary requirements and the people who have those dietary requirements. There are more than 100,000 people who are active members of various blogs and groups on social media that are highly engaged in Vegan community. Also, according to the recent census, Australia has a population of around 600,000 Muslims so our target audience is a fairly large segment.
We are a culturally diverse team of four, having a diverse set of skills and experiences ranging from marketing, commerce, IT and hospitality. We also have a working relationship with a Software Development company offshore which specialises in building apps and MVPs for startups and we hope to secure their services for the development of the application.
We are ideally looking for a mentor who has worked on building apps, can guide us to develop a crowd-sourcing platform and help us secure some early adopters to help us launch a MVP.
We will be reaching out to different customers segments via various channels.
– Travelers (having specific dietary Requirements):
Transit Advertising – Murrays/Greyhound – targeting travelers by promoting with Murrays/greyhound directly by partnering with Transportation services company or finding other ways to promote
– Local foodies (having specific dietary requirements):
– Restaurant Businesses:
Sales – Walk-Ins and contacts through references
Email – Emails Marketing
Social Media – LinkedIn – Telling and introducing offerings, offering them trackable results for targeted marketing
– Software Development knowledge & connections to develop the application
– Information Systems and Analytics – Knowledge from Course and Tableau Skills
– Client Servicing Skills – Experience servicing clients and building relationships providing value
– Graphic Design Skills – Have skills to make prototypes, app designs good enough for MVP and conceptualise concepts
– Commerce/Business and Management Skills – Degree and various experiences, Jeremy runs a trivia business, Atif had a restaurant venture (sold)
– Public Speaking – Jeremy has had experience running trivias and has stage confidence
– Hospitality Experience – All the team members have worked in hospitality industry
– Social Media Marketing – Atif has worked in a digital media marketing company for two years
– Sales and Sponsorships – Jeremy has secured some restaurant sponsorships for Burgmann Resident Association in his role as a VP.
Currently, we are at a preliminary testing phase and building mockups/prototypes to test user experiences.
Setup Costs – Initial
Development Costs – $1000-$2000
Administration Costs – $300
Marketing – $500
– Square63 for Development of the application – based in Pakistan
– Outsourcing moderation using Upwork freelancers
– Looking out to partner with media companies and PR Partners (HerCanberra, Vegan bloggers (Planthealthman.com))
Business customers willing to pay once the platform has enough customers on board upto 100 for yearly subscriptions and 100-500 for advertising