According to recent research, approximately 90% of Americans don’t really love to cook for themselves. Unsurprisingly, we’re spending a lot in restaurants, either enjoying sit-down meals or ordering take-out to savor in our own living rooms. In fact, the average household spends over $3,000 per year on dining out. It makes sense, then, that we’re obsessed with food. We take photos of it, we order it from our phones… and now, we might even figure out where we want to go, thanks to a new app that’s described as being an Instagram-Yelp hybrid.
Approximately 69% of millennials consider themselves to be adventurous — and often, young people are more than willing to try out new cuisines and foreign dishes. But when it comes to deciding where to eat, we’re not always willing to take a risk. That’s where MealMe comes in. The brand new app is a bit different from what you might expect. It’s actually a social media platform that allows users to post images of their meals or the restaurants they explore and share them with others. But it also allows you to find new restaurants around you, place an order, and even make a reservation.
Currently, tech-savvy foodies are forced to use several different resources to find a restaurant and to procure a meal from it. They might Google or Yelp a certain type of cuisine, pull up GrubHub to place an order, or use OpenTable to book for an upcoming event. And 35% of people say they wouldn’t have discovered a business if they hadn’t seen a physical sign. But all that app usage and searching seemed like a waste of time to Matthew Bouchner and Will Said, the pair of Emory University students who created MealMe. Instead, they wanted to create a one-stop shop that would allow users to access all of the information they need and make a final decision about where and what to eat all at once.
The app actually has an AI-powered feed that pulls data from Yelp, like the location of a restaurant and the average cost of its menu items. It also features user-generated data, like comments and likes, and uses all of that data to provide the most relevant options to a given user. For instance, if you often search for frozen desserts and consume the average amount of ice cream per year (26 liters!), the app will be more likely to show you search results that are pertinent to your sweet interests. Both restaurants and individual users can also post photos of food to promote specific items or to share their thoughts. When a user clicks on one of those photos, they can access food delivery services or booking platforms to satisfy some instant gratification.
The app is not yet available for widespread use, as it’s still in beta testing mode. That said, it is currently free to use — though it likely won’t be in the future. MealMe will likely take a commission from delivery orders and will also offer premium data packages to restaurants and options for targeted ad space. They’re currently seeking seed funding for the venture, to the tune of $120,000. But considering that the food app market (which the developers see as being disjointed, at present) as valued at over $10 billion and the MealMe platform itself is so adaptable, the developers are hopeful that this app will have a chance to catch on with the general public.