The Elevator Pitch
Edibly will help vegans and vegetarians connect with restaurants, by providing veg'n menus, having 'tips' for how to order, and reviews specifically tailored to vegans and vegetarians. From this we want to build a community hub for vegans/vegetarians.
Menus: See vegetarian/vegan menus to remove all guesswork and pestering of the server. This shows menu items that are purely vegan/vegetarian, but also things that can be made veggie with just a few little tweaks. These will be labeled 'can be made'.
Reviews: The reviews system will be tailored specifically to the veg community, this means being able to rate the restaurant on atmosphere, service, and variety (did you have more than one option?), as well as rating the individual menu items themselves. Restaurants can get a clean slate on their reviews if they can prove they are expanding and improving their veggie options.
Tips: This is based on something I've noticed a lot in the community - we share around little tips like, "did you know X restaurant has vegan spaghetti?" This just makes it a lot easier.
Community: Other than just reviews and tips, we plan on building a centralized community. Veggies right now are dispersed among facebook groups, reddit, twitter, HappyCow, etc. It would be great to have a hub, just for us.
Restaurant-specific: A lot of restaurant owners/GMs expressed interest in being able to interact with users. We plan on adding features for restaurants (some free, some paid) like Featured Dishes, ability to change their veg'n menus themselves, adding photos, and other, ad-type stuff (think Facebook featured posts).
Your Humble Founder
Hi, I'm Hazel, and I'm bothering restaurants so you don't have to. I've been a vegetarian for my whole life, thanks to my hippie mom, and am a somewhat recent vegan, but am struggling with - you guessed it - dining out. I'm in my final year of economics at the U of A, and have been researching startups, the tech world, the vegan/vegetarian market as well as the restaurant industry, marketing, and other general starting-a-business stuff for about a year to prepare for launching the app. I also have business experience in the form of 2 years team management (hiring, training, managing, money stuff, the whole shebang) for a small mostly student business.
Joining me will be my friend and very smart Tech Guy, Vassili (http://vassi.li). I plan on hiring a UI/graphic designer, someone to call restaurants, and maybe someone to do social media?
Why do you need my money?
The bulk of the moeny is for the actual making of the app (I designed it and coded some stuff, but I could not for the life of me make an app) - for iOS, Android, maybe Windows, and browser. On top of that, other technical costs like keeping up big servers full of restaurant data, getting into the Apple app store, and lots of other odds and ends.
On the non-tech side, we would need to hire someone to call restaurants and build veg-specific menus, a graphic/UI designer. Additionally the money will go toward marketing, incorporation, trademark, and other legal fees, and office space, so I can stop working out of my parents' basement.
How do you plan on making money?
Yep! Restaurants have difficulty reaching the vegan/vegetarian community and this would be a great conduit - and promotions would work similarly to Facebook or Google. We may also have a few, not-super-intrusive ads until we have the userbase to sustain a restaurant-funded app.
If you're considering contributing but want to make sure I won't blow your money on dumb stuff, I'm happy to chat more. email@example.com!
How are you gonna get restaurants onboard with this?
We've been doing it already! All we have to do is call, ask about vegan/vegetarian options, ask if they have gluten-friendly substitutes, enter it all into our Big Spreadsheet, ask for permission to use this info, and voila. A good chunk of our funding will go toward hiring someone to call these restaurants and get the data.
How will the ratings system work?
It will be based on variety (N/A to places with very small menus, like Farrow), service (are they able to make the necessary changes) and atmosphere. Ratings for individual menu items will also factor in. We will never charge to remove negative reviews. Not even in a wink-wink nod-nod way. Ratings can be reset by proving your restaurant has significantly improved its vegan and vegetarian options. This is happening all the time, and we want to support that!
What if a restaurant changes its menu?
We will never guarantee that menus will be up-to-date, but will try to make an easy way for restaurants to access their menus and make the necessary changes.
Questions I get asked a lot
Rather than going the normal route of finding investors, I prefer to crowdfund because Edibly can easily be warped into a menu app, just another review app, or a blanket app for all dietary restrictions off the bat - especially by investors looking to maximize potential profit. My ~vision~ of Edibly was as a vegan/vegetarian hub, at least at first, even if that may have a smaller target audience from the beginning.
Will you make a version for (gluten-free, allergies, other dietary restrictions)
That's why we're called Edibly and not something like Vegibly. While my priorities are with the vegan/vegetarian community first, there is definitely room for expansion into other dietary restrictions, while still maintaining a healthy veggie community. Dining out isn't just tough on us, it's tough on a lot of different people! (Short answer: quite possibly!)
So, it's a restaurant directory/review app?
Among other things, yes. Unlike some veg-specific directories, we will include any restaurant that gives their consent, even if the veg options are slim. It's almost as important to know where you can't eat as knowing where you can. Another big difference is the menu feature, which shows users exactly what their options are. Edibly also features a 'feed', so restaurants and users can connect.