Feasty app appeals to local food fans, shoots for national recognition

Like many of you, my smartphone is constantly blinking different colors, telling me to check on my email, my text messages or a Facebook event I’m still on the fence about attending. For the last week, however, those little blinking lights have been making me hungry.
That’s because about a week ago, after Ocean Accelerator’s second annual Demo Day, I downloaded the new Cincinnati-based app Feasty. I now get a reminder twice a day to check deals in my area, with mouthwatering pictures attached of free frites with a sandwich from Taste of Belgium or $3 off Gomez Salsa’s turtles.
According to founder Anthony Breen, a Xavier University graduate and serial entrepreneur, the app is designed to connect people passionate about eating food to those passionate about creating it. Put another way, it’s designed to help the relatable circular conversation of “Where do you want to eat?” (Closely followed by, “I don’t know, where do you want to eat?”)
“I’m not someone who uses apps for everything,” Breen says. “I usually err on the side of not using apps, but it seemed like no one had perfected the restaurants app.”
Breen points out that most consumers know the choices generally available to them and what appeals to them at area restaurants. What they need is an incentive, and Feasty allows restaurant managers to provide that incentive in real time by posting limited-time (one to two hour) deals in order to fill seats.
Feasty is an easy sell for restaurant-goers, but there’s another layer to the app than the images fed to consumers on the front end.
It’s this back end layer that Feasty is constantly working to improve through data and innovation, and as a result the company recently won the right to compete in the 2016 PYMNTS/Alexa Tech Challenge. The competition challenges 13 companies across the nation to use Alexa, Amazon’s voice activated assistant, to solve a problem related to the payments and commerce system.
For the five-week challenge, Feasty has joined forces with Zipscene, the local company that “brings data to dining” in order to aid restaurant marketers understand consumer behavior. Together, Feasty and Zipscene will be working on a solution Breen says will simplify the complex decision of where to eat.
While working on the project, they’re up against some pretty big competitors. The 13 companies competing include Visa, Discover and Western Union.
“I think we’re the smallest combined group,” Breen says. “I think it shows that if you have a lot of passion and create a product that speaks to people, you can compete.”
Even after the challenge, Breen says Feasty and Zipcene will continue to work together to improve the app’s current format. As they continue that innovation, they’re also eyeing expansion to Dayton and Columbus, a logical next step for the current Cincinnati-centric app.
“A week before (Ocean’s) Demo Day, we decided to expand throughout Greater Cincinnati,” Breen says, explaining that before that the app had focused solely on five key neighborhoods. “For us, it’s very easy to scale.”
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