Do you ever walk past a random restaurant thinking that you wouldn’t eat there, but if you had a free sample you’d consider it? While this is going on, these restaurants would want nothing more than for you to walk in and try a free sample. With Lunchspread everyone wins. The new marketing tool allows small stores have free samples outsourced to your business to gain publicity. All you have to do is fill out a survey about what you and your co-workers want to try and like that you are tasting restaurants on restaurants of food.
The experienced founder Andy Wang tells AlleyWatch what inspired the business as well as how you can get your free samples on.
Tell us about the product or service.
Lunchspread is a marketing tool that helps independent restaurants acquire new customers through targeted free samples to local offices.
How is it different?
We took a concept (Discovery Commerce) that is very popular in other verticals (i.e. Birchbox & Beauty Products) and modified it to make sense for restaurants. For example, we purposely set all samples to be delivered in the afternoon when restaurants often have excess inventory and idle delivery staff. Many partner restaurants tell us that delivering free food samples actually costs them almost nothing incrementally!
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Our primary customers are independent restaurants. There are over 300K independent restaurants in the US alone. Our secondary customers are offices and catering orders. The business catering market in the US is over $9B.
What is the business model?
We charge restaurants a tiered monthly subscription for access to office leads (i.e. lead generation) among other marketing services. We will also take a commission on catering orders made through our site (to come).
What inspired the business?
I spent the last 3 years working directly with independent restaurants at Savored and Groupon. I noticed that even the best restaurants needed to constantly bring in new customers. But the vast majority did absolutely no marketing because the current tools available were ineffective. Expensive Yelp ads and Groupon deals only made sense for merchants with very high customer lifetime values (e.g. dentists, salons, etc).
I wanted to build a user acquisition tool that great restaurants would actually use, so I went and asked hundreds of them how they wanted to market. Almost every restaurant said, “I just want people to taste my food”. That’s how the initial idea for Lunchspread was born.
So from your data, which type of cuisine is most popular for lunch among New Yorkers?
Not a specific cuisine, but the vast majority of current lunch choices are popular fast casual spots. I think Chipotle accounts for over 50% of answers.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
In six months we hope to have hundreds of restaurants and hundreds of thousands of office workers on the platform. There is no reason why every office worker in NYC shouldn’t be on Lunchspread – it is simply free food delivered right to your office.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Building a large and diverse network is incredibly valuable. You’ll be amazed by the number of useful “coincidences” that start popping up.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Probably Danny Meyer. I’m a huge fan of what he’s done with his Union Square Hospitality Group. I remember listening to an interview where he explained he’d rather use his food, service and exceptional hospitality (versus discounts) to market seats at his restaurants. Obviously, they’re so well known now that they wouldn’t need any marketing – but I imagine Danny Meyer would like the core concept of Lunchspread.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is by far the densest city in terms of offices & restaurants so it was an obvious first market to test. I was also born, raised, educated and currently still live in the best city in the world.
Where is your favorite fall destination in the city?
Biking all the up the West Side highway