Our Story: Rebuilding Trust in Restaurant Recommendations while Supporting Local Businesses
Hi! We’re the co-founders of LocalMeal. As 2021 comes to an end, we wanted to share with you our journey so far. We hope that after reading it, you’ll want to join us on our mission to share and discover the delicious hidden gems of your city while supporting local restaurants.
LocalMeal is born
At the start of 2021, having been asked to identify a problem worth solving for our Entrepreneurship class, we spent hours in the park discussing inconveniences we've all experienced, one of which stood out.
We travelled to Lisbon in the summer of 2020. After endlessly scrolling through google maps and searching on the internet, we could not judge whether the places shown were the authentic, local kind we were looking for. So, we decided to walk around. After a good couple of hours, we finally settled on a place – an almost empty restaurant, where the waiters did not speak a word of English. We ended up having the best fish we had ever eaten (seriously).
Still, it took hours of walking to find a place that was not overpriced and touristy. We asked ourselves: could there be a more efficient way to find authentic, local dining experiences like this one? After further exploring the problem for our class, we decided it was one worth pursuing, and LocalMeal was born.
Frustration with the current restaurant discovery process is real
After conducting extensive market research, we realized that you guys are frustrated with the whole restaurant discovery process too. The three top pain points, we discovered, were:
The lack of visibility of small, local, authentic places - often, people find the most meaningful and rewarding dining experiences to be at small, local, independently-owned restaurants, yet these places often lack visibility on popular platforms like TripAdvisor or Yelp. They’re actually usually discovered through word of mouth.
People have different tastes - Review platforms do not consider the variety of tastes and preferences in the population. If the person leaving the review does not at all have the same criteria as the one reading it, the review quickly loses its value.
Current options are unintuitive and overwhelming - The star review system used is difficult to interpret. What does a 3.5-star rating really mean? And why is the same restaurant getting equal amounts of 1 star and 5-star reviews? Other options like Instagram are not specifically designed for restaurant discovery, making them overwhelming to navigate.
All of these problems have led to a major lack of trust in the mobile restaurant discovery process, leading to individuals mainly relying on word of mouth to find new places. LocalMeal aims to stimulate word of mouth on a mobile platform and rebuild the lost trust in restaurant recommendations. And with local restaurants struggling due to the pandemic, LocalMeal is specifically designed to give them the visibility they deserve.
Where we’re at now
After having understood the problems you guys are facing (and we still are listening), we have designed our mobile app to address these issues. We are collecting feedback and finalizing the prototype for the first beta version of LocalMeal which we expect to be released within the next 3-4 months.
While you wait, if you are interested, please subscribe to our email list below for access to an early invite! If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, feel free to reach out to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are excited to announce that we have so much in store for you (in this version and upcoming ones), and we sincerely hope you will enjoy LocalMeal.
Keep supporting local restaurants and stick around :)
Derin, Noah, and Isabella