Lexington, Kentucky-based startup Fooji allows users to tweet a food-related emoji to — well, order food. The company calls it “the simplification of food ordering.”
The premise seems simple: tweet an emoji of bread and get a delicious turkey sandwich at your office. But the process isn’t quite that simple — at least, not the first time.
First, you have to log into the Fooji site with your Twitter account and enter your street address (for delivery) and credit card information. Then you browse the ever-changing “menu”, which is limited to the set of food emojis currently available and supported by the Unicode Standard — that means no tacos or burritos until later this year.
After deciding what you’re in the mood for (pizza, hamburgers or noodles, to name a few options), tweet your pick at the @gofooji account. Currently, the service is only available in Manhattan.
Oh, and you don’t get to pick what you eat. This is for adventurous eaters only.
Oh, and you don’t get to pick what you eat. This is for adventurous eaters only. Think of it as sort of a food discovery engine, similar to how services like Netflix and Apple Musicrecommend content for their users.Fooji founder and CEO Gregg Morton told Mashable that the lack of choice is a response to the overwhelming amount of options from services like Seamless.
“During the day, I work at another startup I co-founded, and this may sound crazy, but one of the biggest challenges we have during the day is what to eat for lunch,” Morton said. “It takes us down a Netflix-like syndrome path where you’re constantly just looking at content, or looking at menus, and you’re not making a decision.”
“You just give us the type of cuisine you like, and we’ll handle the rest.”
Anyone who has tried to coordinate a meal between multiple people in Manhattan knows there is too much to choose from — it’s a good problem to have, but it’s still an issue
Anyone who has tried to coordinate a meal between multiple people in Manhattan knows there is too much to choose from — it’s a good problem to have, but it’s still an issue, especially when you’re pressed for time at work.Morton said the inspiration came from Domino’s Pizza, which allows customers to order pizzas via tweeting a pizza emoji as part of its Easy Order system. Fooji expands upon this concept but offers an advantage in delivering diverse menu items, whereas Domino’s only delivers its own pizzas.
Fooji partnered with Seamless and GrubHub to create an algorithm for randomized ordering. When you tweet an emoji that indicates the cuisine you want, the algorithm finds a restaurant in your area with a 4- or 5-star rating and chooses the highest-rated dishes. A minimum amount of user ratings are required for Fooji to select a restaurant, eliminating places with a 5-star rating from only one user.
Originally, the company was going to manually fulfill orders, but after garnerning so much initial attention, Morton said the needed to automate the ordering became clear.
Each meal costs about $15; Fooji makes about $2 off each purchase. Some meals cost a little more or a little less than $15, but the average is around $13.
Currently, the service is not very friendly for people with any dietary restrictions, but the company is working on catering to more user preferences. For the purposes of this review, my order had to be adjusted manually because of my own food allergies (I DMed with @GoFooji after I tweeted my request). To be fair, allergic reactions are a hazard of ordering any delivery food.
Sure, it’s a little silly. But I got a delicious sandwich from Melt Shop, which I might not have ever tried otherwise.
Using Twitter to order food is fairly outward-facing, since you’ll be broadcasting your order. But Morton said the company is hoping to work with SMS, too. Its technology, which is patent pending, has the ability to “order goods and over services using an emoji communication set on a communications platform,” so Fooji could conceivably exist on any social media platform.
But there are challenges, beyond emoji and menu options and dietary restrictions. I can’t see people ordering random meals all the time (it’s more of a “wouldn’t it be cool if we tried this once?” service). The real money could be in the technology that powers the operation. Soon after buzz around Fooji took off, Morton said large franchise restaurants like McDonalds and Taco Bell approached the company to use the technology for their own services.
So while @gofooji remains something of a gimmick, it’s certainly one of the more fun ones we’ve seen.
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