With so many food options in Winston-Salem, people usually get stuck in the rut of only eating at the popular restaurants, instead of exploring other options.
In a community where Takeout Central and Tapingo are sometimes seen as the only options that we have as students for off-campus food, we rarely get to see the dishes offered by restaurants when ordering take-out.
The app startup Neighborz hopes to change this dilemma by helping users find the dishes they want to eat, as opposed to having users scroll through the different text menus from various restaurants, which is what most other services provide. Their free iOS app called Neighborz helps users explore and discover dishes from multiple restaurants in Winston-Salem with no added fee to the user.
“We are trying to gamify mobile food ordering with a UI [User Interface] that helps to explore local food options in a fun and efficient way,” said Carl Turner, founder of Neighborz and Wake Forest alum of the Class of 2017.
The app learns about your personal tastes with a Tinder-like interface and will suggest dishes based on your swiping behavior and previous orders. Once your account is set-up, you have the option to order food from more than 10 restaurants in Winston-Salem. That number is projected to increase as popularity continues to grow. Current options include, amongst others, Burger Batch, Thai Harmony, 6th and Vine, O’Brien’s Deli and Krankies.
Turner decided to start the venture when he saw that most mobile ordering apps are completely interchangeable and the same.
“People only use these apps when they are hungry and want food right now,” Turner said.
He noticed however, that platforms like Instagram and Facebook have a lot of content around pictures of delicious food. Turner’s idea is “to bring these worlds together by building a platform where people can experience and interact with food in addition to being able to place an order”. After a couple of months thinking about the idea, Turner made the leap towards developing the application right after he graduated this past May. Turner is actively working with other entrepreneurs in the community that have started successful companies.
Despite starting the venture as an alum, Turner has seen a “very supportive local community that has a high interest in start-ups especially coming from the Reynolda Campus.”
With app downloads climbing to 500 in just two weeks after launching in mid-September, Neighborz is seeing numbers as usage times are around four minutes per session.
Guillermo Torres is a junior and is a regular user. “Neighborz reduces the time you spend ordering, in comparison to other apps, while also helping you decide what you want to have for lunch or dinner that day.”
Turner still comes back to campus to meet with professors to discuss and work on future data analytics applications. Neighborz’s unique UI allows for advanced data analytics as most restaurants today just know their best sellers. Additionally, with Neighborz, “We also know what people actively dislike and can apply methods like A/B testing, sensitivity analysis and even food retargeting thanks to the swiping and Wishlist feature built into the app.”
“Later this year we will expand to other cities in North Carolina and are currently preparing a launch in my hometown in Berlin, Germany,” Turner said. Our long-term goal is to leverage the long user interactions to build a P2P delivery platform in urban spaces that triggers deliveries with instant incentives like free orders or highly discounted dishes.”