Pasadena-based Foodme (www.foodme.com) is one of the first, external startups funded out of Idealab's New Venture Group, and is looking to help connect restaurants with customers using a CPA model. The firm so far has signed up a number of restaurants in the Pasadena area. We caught up with founder John Delacruz to hear more about what the company hopes to do as it expands beyond Pasadena.
What is Foodme all about?
John Delacruz: What we do is we broker deals between restaurants and hungry diners in real time. We let restaurants set pricing based on demand, and then if you're hungry looking for a place to eat, we match you up with a restaurant offering a great deal.
How do users do that?
John Delacruz: A user goes to our site, tells us what they are looking for, and how many people in their party, and we find them a nearby restaurant.
How far along is the company?
John Delacruz: We launched in Pasadena in October, we have 25 restaurants signed up, and have really excited restaurants, really excited users, and are ready to expand to the rest of LA.
Talk about your background and what you'd done before this?
John Delacruz: This is my second company. My first company, was Journalfire, published on academic publishing. Before that, I worked at the Pasadena Angels, the angel investment group.
What do people find is the most useful part of your service?
John Delacruz: We are finding that both users and restaurants are finding it compelling. For a customer, think about all the times you are hungry, looking for a place to eat, and you'd also like to save some money, and you just don't have a deal handy at the time. We can provide you a great place to eat and a great time. What's exciting for a restaurant, is they pay us nothing upfront, they pay us cost-per-acquisition, which is really different from the traditional model of paying up front for marketing. Also, restaurants really love it because they only pay per customer, that they can take control of how many customers they are receiving based on demand. We don't cannibalize their existing customers base.
How savvy are restaurants to using an online service like yours?
John Delacruz: We try to keep it simple for restaurants. They understand that if they have an empty table, they are missing out on opportunities. So, we can help them fill that table by allowing them to adjust their pricing. It's something the airline industry has done for years, the hotel industry. We can give them the same tools, so they're excited about that.
How do people get those deals--is this an email or a text?
John Delacruz: Right now, people come to our web site and tell us what they want. I'm hungry, I want sushi, and we look at our back end and try to find the best restaurant and deal.
Tell us a bit about the involvement of Idealab here?
John Delacruz: We're an Idealab startup, and we came out of the New Venture Group there. We're one of the first investments out of that group.