Subscription models — whether it’s MoviePass, Winc or BirchBox — provide tempting deals that we just can’t resist. Moving into the restaurant space, App-App is the newest subscription service offering a deal you can’t say no to. At $10.99 a month, subscribers get a free appetizer at participating restaurants once a day, every day of the month. The company is currently expanding their partnerships so that you can enjoy the myriad of restaurants NYC has to offer.
AlleyWatch chatted with the App-App team and got a taste of the company’s long term plan.
Tell us about App-App.
App-App is as simple as it sounds! We are a subscription mobile application, available on iOS and Android, that provides a complimentary appetizer at any of our partner restaurants once per day, every day, to enhance your dining experience. We launch on May 10th at TechDay.
How is App-App different?
Let’s be real, there are a lot of food applications out there. Where we set ourselves apart is that we hand select our partners, making sure you have a variety of excellent places to choose from – and when you do, you don’t have to wait around for a perk or worry about discount percentages – you simply choose what appetizer you like from our selection and it’s brought out to you. This way you always know what you are getting, simple.
What market does App-App targt and how big is it?
Food in the US is a HUGE business. Roughly 19 million people go out to a full service restaurant at least 10 times per month. When looking at eating out once per week, that number skyrockets to roughly 60 million. Add that to the fact that 39% of adults say they aren’t eating out as much as they would like and you have not only a giant opportunity, but one that is still looking to grow.
What is the business model?
App-App is a subscription model. For $10.99 a month (the cost of a typical appetizer) users can receive a complimentary appetizer once per day, everyday at any of our partner restaurants.
What inspired the business?
We worked together at a corporate catering Startup. During that time we were able to chat with a wide variety of restaurants throughout the city and help them get into the catering scene. What we discovered though was, while they liked the additional revenue this provided, they really wanted to see more people come in to enjoy their amazing food. We looked into how the restaurants are trying to do this and saw so many fragmented ways…but then it dawned on us! Many of the restaurants were already offering something complimentary to try and get people in – so what if we could scale that for them, so it’s not only those who walk by their location, but instead have a way anyone in the city could find it and enjoy.
Additionally, we’ve seen how subscription-based models have been blowing up over the last several years – whether it’s MoviePass for movie-goers, Hooch for those who enjoy a good happy hour, or one of the more obvious ones, Spotify – it feels like everyone has a subscription to some sort of service. But nothing we found exciting seemed to exist for going out to eat – and that’s where we stepped in.
Is this business strategy sustainable for your merchants in the long run?
YES! Not only is it sustainable, but we are finding that users are clearly spending additional money during their dining experience. All of this goes directly to the restaurant. We are mapping ourselves out to be one of, if not the most cost effective method of marketing for our partner restaurants.
What are your milestones you plan to achieve in the next 6 months?
Right now, we are launching into our open beta. Clearly our focus is providing the best experience for our users and partners at this point. We will be doing our live launch May 10th, at TechDay NYC. The main milestone we are looking to achieve is increasing our partners from the 20 in our beta to 80 by the end of summer. We will also be expanding from just Manhattan to Queens, Brooklyn, and New Jersey.
What is the one piece of Startup advice you never got?
This isn’t so much a piece of advice I never got, but rather a piece of advice that took longer for me to take seriously than it should have – and it’s simple: Just do it. Far too many people talk about their “this is how I’m going to make it” business ideas and they almost always remain just that – ideas. Thankfully, I have enough people in my life who gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get the ball rolling – and here we are now!
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the NYC community, who would it be and why?
This is a tough one honestly, as there are so many unique individuals I would love to speak with and learn from. If I had to select one, it would have to be Daniel Boulud. I love his restaurants and believe I would be able to learn a lot from his decades of expertise in the field. That said, I would also love to meet Nobu Matsuhisa for similar reasons.
Why did you launch in NYC?
Ignoring the fact that we both live in NYC… is there really any better city in the world to launch a restaurant app?
What is your favorite restaurant in NYC?
Oh this is easy, Guantanamera. Amazing Cuban food, ½ priced mojitos on Tuesday, and fresh rolled cigars on the weekend… need I say more?