Simmer, A Y Combinator Food Directory Startup, Is Yelp 2.0 For Dish-First Restaurant Reviews
Aug 19, 2019
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One usually decides on a restaurant based on Yelp or Google reviews. However, the reviews themselves may not provide specific information that the user is looking for, such as the quality of a particular dish they may be interested in on the prospective restaurant’s menu. The lack of dish-level comments in restaurant reviews leaves a restaurant-goer in the dark until they try it themselves. Richard Wu, 21, and Vaibhav Verma, 23, see the benefits of dish-specific reviews and have created Simmer in response. Simmer is a platform that provides reviews of specific dishes from a restaurant instead of the establishment itself, which gives users the information to make a more informed choice when selecting from the menu. Simmer is a part of Y Combinator’s Summer 2019 batch. Simmer cofounders Richard Wu (left) and Vaibhav Verma (right). Richard Wu
Simmer’s founders believe that from a restaurant-goer’s perspective, user reviews of the restaurant themselves aren’t remotely helpful in assisting someone’s decision about what to order. A review left on Yelp could be attributed to many different factors, which makes it hard for someone interested in eating at a particular place to determine whether the quality of a specific dish they would like to eat. The founders believe that general reviews of the restaurant are not helpful as a person primarily goes there for the food itself, and needs dish-specific reviews to select the best food for themselves. Given the lack of data around dishes themselves, there is a lucrative opportunity to collect and aggregate this dish-level reviews on a simple and accessible platform. The restaurant industry as a whole is projected to generate $839 billion in revenue by the end of 2019. Diving deeper into the foodservice market, this subsector of the restaurant industry is currently $13 billion according to Mark Wilson of Fast Company. As more restaurants continue to work with food delivery services such as Grubhub and Doordash to compliment their dine-in option, the need for dish-level reviews is even greater. Users relying on food delivery services will find the current Yelp reviews unhelpful as those are generalized critiques or compliments of a particular restaurant, instead of specific reviews of a dish they are considering to order. Dish-specific reviews can help food delivery users find the specific meal that they want and are more confident knowing they’ve ordered something they like. A platform that aggregates food-delivery menus with dish-level reviews is needed for users to make an informed choice as to what they order online. Simmer produces the best dishes that can be delivered based on their reviews. By denoting whether a dish can be delivered or not informs the users whether they can order through a food delivery service or have to dine in at the restaurant. The user reviews for each dish include ratings, user comments, images of said dish, and nutritional data. The founders have built a custom-made sentiment analyzer to generate a qualitative rating out of five stars by aggregating reviews across blog posts, social media, food magazines and newspaper sections, and other mediums. The critical insight Wu and Verma understood that all this data is online and needs to be collected and displayed in a user-friendly manner to allow someone to quickly make an informed decision on what dish they want to order from a specific restaurant. Given the need for updated, relevant information on dishes from restaurants to allow for more user satisfaction in food delivery services, a strong technical team is needed to develop a platform to host the necessary data. Wu and Verma understood that they each complement one another in their quest to build Simmer. Verma attended the University of Chicago, where he completed his double major in Economics and Computer Scicence in 2018. Verma’s relevant experience in the food industry was from his stint at Lolli and Pops, a popular San Francisco-based candy store. Wu attended UChicago, where he graduated with a degree in Public Policy. He previously worked at Blue Apron, an American meal kit delivery service. He also founded KitcheNet, a fresh fruit delivery service, during his undergraduate studies. These two have decided with the plethora of dishes that can be delivered that people deserve better information regarding the food they could order, and believe that Simmer is the next step in releasing untapped value in the restaurant industry. If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check out my other work on LinkedIn and my personal website, frederickdaso.com . Follow me on Twitter @fredsoda , on Medium @fredsoda , and on Instagram @fred_soda .