Featured Startup Pitch: BiteHunter—a search engine for daily deals at restaurants
Headquarters: New York City
Year Founded: 2010
Brief Company Description: “BiteHunter.com is the first real-time search engine helping frugal foodies locate great dining deals in their area from one website.”
By Gil Harel, co-founder
With more than 10 years of online management experience in the hospitality and restaurant industry, I was hungry for my own business venture in the dining industry. While working on my first startup in the industry, I saw a problem in the market. It was fragmenting and users had to spend too much time trying to find the great specials and deals everyone was offering to them. We wanted to alleviate having to go to multiple sources just find that $5 off. So, my business partner and I put our heads together and came up with the idea of helping consumers dine out without the guilt of spending money AND make it easy. Thus, BiteHunter was born. Although it was founded in early 2010 by myself and Ido Shillon, BiteHunter did not release its official beta version of the site until March 2011. From there, we rapidly grew.
The site was first penned as “the Kayak.com” of the restaurant world, the first real-time search engine for restaurants and dining deals. Whether a consumer is concerned about saving a buck or finding out if their favorite eatery will deliver right to their doorstep, BiteHunter scavenges the web for all of the best deals and information necessary to help make those dining decisions. We pull the info that restaurants are promoting via Twitter, Facebook, blogs, websites, newsletters, daily deal sites and more and compile it in one easy-to-navigate website. Its search capabilities allow consumers to find listings by delivery options, location, specific kinds of food you might be craving and more.
Only three short months after the official launch, we saw such success in our first three cities (New York, San Francisco and Chicago) that we expanded and announced the unveiling of our new iPhone mobile app. Based on location and time of day, BiteHunter shares all the greatest specials, offers and daily deals right to your mobile device. With a few weeks, BiteHunter’s app made the “New and Noteworthy” Featured list on the app store, as well as top dining apps, “What’s Hot” and “Top-Rated” free apps. While the website still ran in only three cities, the mobile app expanded BiteHunter to nationwide coverage.
Today, both the website and the mobile app are available to cities nationwide. With our first round of seed funding, we are able to continually update our database with information pertinent to those seeking deals and dining information right to their computer or phone. Consumers are always looking for convenience, so we’re giving them just what they’re looking for.
In an effort to continually build BiteHunter’s consumer base and database, the company focuses on four major aspects of marketing and promotional strategy. The first being partnership and syndication. Our dining deal platform provides an API that can feed many players such as directories, mobile apps, travel websites and more, which can then power the dining deals section of many of these mentioned players. The second is having a product in which we are constantly improving users’ engagement and experience by providing social and viral tools embedded within the product such as Facebook and Twitter connect. The third is focusing on public relations and social media to help spread the word about our service and generate positive buzz about using BiteHunter when dining out. Lastly, BiteHunter focuses on smart, paid marketing tactics to help increase awareness about the website and mobile app.
BiteHunter.com differentiates itself from its competitors because of its constant updates of data in real-time. By offering more to the consumer than the ordinary—location, business hours and menu—we are sure to constantly give more than a business card. With everything from delivery options, deal offers, daily specials and more, BiteHunter brings everything you need to know to one comprehensive tool.
BiteHunter’s current business model has two major revenue streams: an affiliate fee from transactions that BiteHunter produced – such as purchasing daily deals, reserving tables via OpenTable or ordering food – and an ad network that provides the option for advertisers to bid on search result keywords and receive exposure on BiteHunter’s mobile devices, websites and its partners’ websites. BiteHunter also released an application programming interface (API) which enables third parties to integrate a live stream of restaurant updates, specifically creating websites and applications for specific deals and events. Our first partnership is with LocalPAGES.com. The LocalPAGES.com Local Food Deals feature simplifies the process of scrounging for grub on an empty stomach by displaying geo-targeted results based on the user’s IP address. They obtain all their information via BiteHunter.com. Most of the restaurants on BiteHunter were already included in the extensive LocalPAGES registry; therefore, the partnership seemed like a natural fit.
Currently, BiteHunter is in the process of raising additional funds to help build upon the already rapid growth of the company, as well as continue to improve its service and technology for its consumers. Our goal is to provide users a way to help find and experience great restaurants while still living within their budgets. Plans for the future include developing more apps for Android and the iPad, pushing more real-time offers from multiple sources and personalizing the user experience.