Helping People Order Pizzas Online
Matt Stewart and Rob Myers should be poster boys for holding down business development costs.
Last year, the two residents of Sydney won $10,000 from the initial Spark Cape Breton competition, which Innovacorp held to encourage startups on the island. The pair won for a company called InstantDiner, which they hoped would become an online ordering and reservation system for independent restaurants.
After a pivot earlier this year, they are beta-testing a new business called PizzaGO, an online site that lets local pizzerias take orders quickly and easily. They have one paying client in the Sydney area, have a verbal commitment from another and are hoping to line up their first multi-location customer soon.
“Traction is obviously something we are trying to build,” Stewart said in an interview.
“We are currently still in beta mode, so we have not actively marketed our product, aside from going to specific pizzerias. The full launch of PizzaGO is set for early- to mid-October.”
Since receiving funding as one of the runners-up in the Spark competition, Stewart (who concentrates on business development) and Myers (the programmer) have been meeting with restaurant and pizzeria owners to find a market gap they could exploit.
What they found is that there are already restaurant-ordering sites like Just-Eat and GrubHub, but they don’t have the customization that pizzerias demand.
Everyone is particular about their pizza, and often pizzas ordered by a group need to be divided into sections with different toppings. Both the pizzeria operators and their customers demand simplicity in an online ordering system, and it is important that it can be used easily from mobile devices.
“Our target market for pizza is millennials, and the consumers we spoke to love the idea of just making an order, paying for it and receiving a message when it’s done,” said Stewart.
So they developed PizzaGO to meet this demand. Proprietors can set up their own site free in about an hour, which in itself is a bonus as 95 per cent of independent restaurants have no mobile online presence.
PizzaGo offers a selection of 40 to 50 toppings that pizzeria operators can easily click to produce an online menu. There are quick features that let people repeat their last order, or choose from their five most popular orders. There is a payment system, which is convenient for the customer, and helps the operator avoid prank orders that are never claimed and paid for.
A site for pizzerias may seem like a niche, but the total market is huge. People in the United States alone spend $32 billion a year on pizzas, and there are 45,000 pizzerias in that country.
PizzaGO’s research shows that a lot of customers prefer a local establishment to large pizza chains.
Stewart said he and Myers plan to court pizza peddlers in Cape Breton and the rest of the Maritimes, then roll the product out across Canada and then the U.S. Working with mentors they met through the Spark competition, they are putting together six- and 18-month business plans and hope to raise money before too long.
In the meantime, they still haven’t burned their way through the $10,000 they got from Spark. They have been frugal in their expenditures — living on pizzas, so to speak.
Stewart jokes that they’ve been intensely researching the market.
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