Fooala tries to bridge the gap between online food ordering and local restaurants. When I first heard their idea at last year’s AlphaLab demo day, I was like “Wow that’s a great idea”! A lot of small restaurants do not have the time or the money to launch a platform to take orders online. Even if they did, trying to promote the fact that they could take orders that way would also be costly and time consuming.
Fooala provides an open online ordering system to restaurants as a Software as a Service. This means there is no hardware or software the restaurant needs to install. Fooala ties in to what the restaurant already does to take orders by phone and fax. They take it another step to help the restaurant integrate the system on an existing website.
Now here is where Fooala get interesting, the restaurant can also tie into a network of high quality websites and applications to engage and attract new customers. A great example of this is CollegeBite.com and the Facebook game Bite Bandit.
Fooala created College Bite to provide online ordering for delivery and pickup from local restaurants. Right now it’s only in Pittsburgh but they plan to launch in other cities soon. I could take the time to explain how the site works, but if you just go to it, it’s self explanatory. Think of it as an interactive menu section of a phonebook (if anyone still uses one of those giant wastes of paper anymore).
Another great example, Bite Bandit creates an interactive food ordering experience. The recently launched Facebook game gives away valuable coupons for orders from CollegeBite.com. They tell me the game has reached thousands of people and has given away thousands of dollars since they launched it a few weeks ago.
The game is setup like a slot machine and with each spin you can win up to $10 off your net order from College Bite. You only get 5 credits a day but you can score you self some more by promoting the game and your winnings.
Fooala is making it easy for small restaurants to reach an audience they would have never been able to reach themselves. I’m really looking forward to watching what this local startup will do next.
They wouldn’t give me details but they tell me they are working on a few major deals with publishers to use their system. I am thinking it’s going to be some kind of widget that the publisher could tie in with their food section. If this is true, then this would give restaurants another great way to reach customers.