Ideas and Validation May 12, 2020

Roast this idea (on fire)

nscode

Problem

You go to a restaurant or order food, but you don't know what's their most favorite/best-selling items on the menu, which are usually means its the most delicious items they got, which you should also probably get.

Solution

A directory of restaurants where restaurants can add themselves and list their menu items.
Users can rate and also review restaurant items in the menu (so they rank higher and become more visible).
This can helps people choose the best items in any restaurant they go without being unlucky and it also forces restaurants to make better food people love :)

You can ask the waiters but they're usually biased.

Questions and Thoughts

  1. Did you experience this problem? What solution did you find? I know for myself I can really use something like that
  2. How can it start making money early?
  3. Should this be focused a specific city that I'm familiar with? It's just seems too complicated to try and make it a global directory to begin with.
  4. How would you market this and grow it organically?
  5. Probably it wouldn't be an easy task to get restaurants to list their items. So maybe it would be a good idea to let users just add restaurants they like. Also an option - scrape restaurant websites for their menu item but this would probably be a tedious task.
  6. Overall I like the idea but it seems difficult to make it work.
  1. 1

    That's exactly the thing I came up one time I was eating out. The internet is full of restaurant ratings but once you're there what do you order? I think there should be a place when people can add meals and vote for them.
    To counter @romram comments, yes Google does that but this isn't meal oriented feature. It wasn't design for rating meals and there could be something much better.
    The waiter will usually give you their personal opinion which may not be representative of what's most liked or worse - they can tell you what the management asked them to tell customers.
    As for business side - I'm not an expert but I think that might be a challenge. But what business isn't challenging?

    1. 1

      I think this idea is not a SaaS in the sense of "build it and start charging", it's something that builds with time.
      Also, it's not likely that consumers will pay to get recommendations on what to eat.
      It makes the business-model not really clear for me.

      1. 1

        You're right. I haven't actually thought about this beyond 'this is something useful that I myself would use'. It's a difficult model and the only way I can think of right now that will make it work is make it free until it's fairly popular and then start charging for some features. But business is not my domain, I'm barely a dev.

  2. 1

    I was actually working on a concept before to solve this problem but temporarily put it aside due to the covid situation. My solution is allowing users to take a picture of the menu, and the app will show the most popular dishes (or recommended ones based on their taste). https://www.indiehackers.com/post/roast-plz-figure-out-what-to-eat-in-restaurant-or-online-order-22cccd5114

    Good thing about this approach is if you do it right you will always get the up-to-date menu. I think it should target one city at a time since you need a network effect for this to work so the narrower the better.

    If you want to discuss more feel free to DM me.

  3. 1

    You are competing against two very big forces:

    1. Google solves this problem partially via reviews which include pictures. So generally before I go to a restaurant I check reviews and if there is a popular dish you might see it's image in the review

    2. You can also simply ask the server about the most popular dish and the conversation has an added benefit of also including your dietry preference.

    How would you offer an experience which is better than both of the above, is something to ponder about

  4. 1

    I've been thinking of such a solution for some time, but critical mass problem keeps me away. Hopefully that won't stop you!

    Such functionality would be amazing for travelers/nomads, who want experiences/authentic food but don't know what to order in a foreign country.

    I don't think you can get restaurants to do anything - they're busy enough running the show. You can, however, piggyback on the reviews trend. Some platforms like Google will scrape reviews for frequently-mentioned terms, and that's the closest I've seen anyone come to a solution. If you've got the time, you can also look at the Photos uploaded and figure out roughly the most popular dish.

    1. 1

      Even for an immigrant in the States like me, I often face the problem of finding authentic food also b/c there're many different cuisines here.

  5. 1

    Definitely a challenge to keep menus up to date. You could potentially incentivize restaurants to contribute this content by offering them something in return, such as:

    1. Beautiful dish photography
    2. Better dish descriptions
    3. Comprehensive ingredient/allergen listing
      etc.
      With that approach you make money from the restaurants. Relying on consumers to contribute your content puts you in a chick-or-egg situation and scraping won't get you the unique content needed to compete with established players.
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