Every week, we bring you the FreshMinds Friday picks – ideas to help you make the most of digital technologies and understand how they are helping brands to grow and innovate. This week, we look at 5 start-ups disrupting the dining experience, transforming everything from how we pay to where we eat. Amongst them are UK-based Flypay and Munchery, a US firm that received an impressive $28 million of funding in April.
Flypay is a UK-based start-up that cuts out the dreaded wait between finishing your food and settling the bill. The app, which integrates with restaurant POS systems, allows customers to retrieve their bill by simply scanning a QR code with integrated NFC tags on their table. Customers can then either pay the full amount by credit or debit card or even split the bill with friends. The technology, which has been adopted by Wahaca and Burrito Mama, received £1million in funding earlier in the year from the mobile payment specialists Entree Capital to further improve the service and advance the dining experience for customers and restaurateurs alike.
It’s a scenario we are all familiar with: you get to your favourite restaurant only to queue for hours for a table. But this could soon be a thing of the past – at least if you download NoWait. Not only does this innovative app display a list of nearby restaurants and corresponding queue times, but it also allows users to join the waiting list straight from their phone. Then, once a table becomes available, customers receive a notification by text. NoWait also benefits restaurateurs, giving them the opportunity to engage with customers via text message while they wait or even after they have left the restaurant. The app, which is responsible for seating five million eaters every month, is already being used by over a thousand restaurants across America. But with the company raising an impressive $10 million in funding in May 2014, it may not be long until NoWait is available internationally.
US firm Punchh provides custom-built mobile apps and a mobile CRM platform. The software integrates with social networks, as well as restaurant POS systems, to help restaurateurs gain a better understanding of their customers. What once began life as an alternative to the physical loyalty card over three years ago has become ever more advanced thanks to significant investments in the firm. In October 2013, the company launched a segmentation tool to facilitate tailored marketing, helping participating restaurants to increase customer loyalty and boost sales.
But start-ups aren’t just disrupting how we dine. They’re also changing where we dine, with a number of companies springing up to deliver restaurant-quality food direct to your door.
Munchery is one of a number of app-based, food delivery start-ups to have benefited from investment lately, having racked up $32 million in funding. But unlike the likes of Instacart and Google Shopping Express, which deliver food products and ingredients direct to your door, Munchery specialises in the delivery of gourmet meals prepared by the company’s highly skilled chefs. In a move that will excite wearable tech fans, the company has announced a partnership with Jawbone, meaning that Munchery customers will be able to link their accounts with their Jawbone UP to track nutritional data from each meal.
Caviar is a US-based firm, offering speedy home delivery from a number of high-end restaurants across America. By logging onto the Caviar website, customers can browse local restaurants and menus, place an order and then track the progress of their food via GPS. The service also comes with a handy group ordering feature that allows everyone to add their own items individually. Cavier is popular with customers and investors alike – 80% of its users are return customers and in April 2014, the firm received $15million in seed and Series A funding. And this week, the firm was acquired by mobile payments company, Square, for a reported $90 million. With this in mind, we predict it won’t be long until the service expands to further cities and launches a Caviar app to react to the growth in m-commerce.