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Business Idea: Food-based App/Social Network

Food Application IdeaFood-related apps are hot (as shown by the popularity of Foursquare/Gowalla), but the niche’s full potential has not been realized.

No one has ever done a Pandora-style application for food where users can rate their favorite dishes and have the application suggest other foods they might like.

Now, when I say dishes, I don’t mean food categories like American, Japanese, or Mexican.

I’m talking specifics like double cheeseburgers, spicy tuna rolls, and four-cheese quesadillas.

How it would work:

  • User registers on the website (or on the app), then customizes their profile by listing:
    • favorite dishes (he/she will need to be very specific about this)
    • allergies to certain ingredients in food/special needs
    • types of dishes that they would never eat, etc.

The Features/Tie-Ins:

  • 1. Suggesting new foods that you might like, based on your top-rated items. It would operate in a similar way to Pandora. You train the app, rate a whole bunch of items, then it suggests new items based on your preferences. It would expand your knowledge of food, restaurants and would improve your quality of life.
  • 2. Ability to find the true, top-rated dish of your choice, in your neighborhood. Every dish in every restaurant would be rated, which would allow people to search the average rating for each dish in each restaurant. It would allow you to see who really has the best tuna roll, chicken caesar salad or filet mignon in town!
  • 3. Finding others that have very similar tastes in foods. This would be especially handy if you have unusual tastes in foods. Wouldn’t it be nice to find someone to hang out with that has the same tastes?
  • 4. Integration with dating websites. Widgets could be put on eHarmonyMatch and OkCupid, so that people could make quick, easy choices about where to go out on a date. Knowing what dishes someone else likes is also a great conversation starter!
  • 5. Integration with Facebook. A widget would quickly show what your favorite menu items are. It would make profiles more dynamic and would help Facebook advertisers. A “Mutual Foods” box would also be useful when you’re looking at someone else’s profile. It would help avoid a full-scale interrogation of each other’s food tastes if you and a friend decide to hang out.

Target Demographics:

  • Dating couples
  • Friends that are just hanging out
  • People that are new in town (tourists)
  • People with special dietary needs (gluten-free, diabetics, vegetarians etc.)
  • Picky eaters
  • People that want to try new foods but have no idea where to start
  • Everyone.

Food, in itself, is a social even in almost every culture. There’s almost a built-in social network to it. People socialize, negotiate business deals, flirt and fall in love over coffee, lunch and dinner every day.

If an app can tap into this implicit social network, it will do very, very well.

Where to start: This app would probably work best (initially) on a local level.  Indexing an entire menu by ingredient can be time-consuming, which is the biggest challenge of this social network. To make things easier, the team could contact a few local restaurants and let them know what they are working on.

The restaurants would provide a list of all their dishes and ingredients which the team would store and index in a large database, priming the app so that users can customize their profiles.

You may even be able to get a government grant for this app, since it would help tourism and people with special dietary needs.

The app would be able to carry itself eventually, especially if one urban area is done really well. Restaurants owners would willingly put in some extra effort to categorize, label and index their foods so that new customers would be able to find them easier.

Similar Apps:

Locavore: Detects where you are and shows you what foods are in season and where to get them. Only shows freshly-grown foods, not restaurant foods.

Urbanspoon: Lets you pick how much you want to spend on food or what kind of meal you want to eat, then shows places nearby. Though this is a handy app, the problem with it is that it’s not specific enough and isn’t loaded with tons of features.

The Cynch: There is nothing on the market right now that’s as detailed as this idea, and that’s why it would have so much appeal. It would be like a synthesis of Pandora and Foursquare, except much more sophisticated.

I wrote this blog post because I get a lot of product/service/marketing ideas. I’m not doing this business idea myself, so it’s free for anyone to take and use. I’m not a developer. I’m just someone that doesn’t want good ideas to go to waste. :)

2 Comments

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2 Responses to “Business Idea: Food-based App/Social Network”

  1. Thanks for sharing, great site and keep it up. I will be back!

  2. Excellent!! Enjoying your writings. Keep it up!.

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